Riverside’s Von Julien, St. Thomas Aquinas’ Amber Donnes named Class 2A players of year

The leaders of the two state basketball championship teams help lead the Louisiana Sports Writers Association’s Class 2A All-State teams.

Riverside Academy sophomore point guard Von Julien was voted boys Outstanding Player after leading the Rebels to a 60-49 victory over St. Thomas Aquinas in the state finals in Monroe.

Julien averaged 14.0 points, 8.1 assists, 4.3 steals and 4.1 rebounds per game, and his game-winning shot in the final seconds in the semifinals against University High sent the Rebels to the championship game.

Meanwhile, St. Thomas Aquinas senior Amber Donnes, who carried the Falcons to the school’s second state title in the past four seasons, capped by a 49-40 victory over two-time defending champion John Curtis in the title game, was voted the girls Outstanding Player.

Donnes was named the championship game MVP after an all-around performance that capped a season in which the McNeese State signee rarely played a full game. STA dominated most of its opponents, but Donnes still averaged 18 points, 7 rebounds and 5 steals per game.

The statewide panel of prep sportswriters looked beyond the finals to honor their Coaches of the Year. On the boys side, Winnfield coach Byron King garnered top honors after directing the Tigers to a semifinals finish before losing to St. Thomas Aquinas. STA coach Errol Gauff and Lakeview’s Josh Hancock also were nominated for the award.

For the girls, Pickering coach Vickie Sketoe was voted Coach of the Year after leading the Lady Devils (25-6) back to the semifinals again before losing to eventual state champion St. Thomas Aquinas in Hammond.

STA coach John White also was nominated for the girls coaching award after he and Gauff led their teams to the state finals. St. Thomas became the fifth school to place both of its teams in the state championship games in the same season.

Joining Julien on the boys’ first team were St. Thomas Aquinas senior Cody Addison, who averaged 17.7 points and 5.1 rebounds per game; 6-5 Newman senior Duke Douglas (21.0 ppg.); and University freshman Wayde Sims (18.4 ppg.).

Joining Donnes on the girls first team was her biggest challenger for Outstanding Player honors, John Curtis junior guard Kolby Morgan, who averaged 24.0 points per game. In addition, Ville Platte senior Breonna O’Connor (24.2 ppg), Pickering junior guard Sami Thomas (19.0 ppg) and University senior Di’Mond Jackson (14.7 ppg) were voted to the team.

The girls second team also includes Doyle’s Taylin Underwood (23.5 ppg), Episcopal’s Mary Melissa Hoover (17.0) and Riverside Academy’s Kendra Turner (16.9). John Curtis’ Richard Durant (14.9 ppg) also made the second team.