Ville Platte High head coach Tommy Jones has been named The 2020 Ville Platte Gazette’s Coach of the Year for boy’s basketball in Evangeline Parish after leading his team to an overall record of 27-11 and a place in the quarterfinals of the LHSAA Class 3A playoffs. (Gazette photos by Tracey Jagneaux)
Jones prepared his players the right way for the jump to 3A
Ville Platte High head coach Tommy Jones has been around for a few years.
Because of that, Jones knew that his team would have to be ready for the rough and tumble world of Class 3A basketball.
Jones did that and more, guiding the Bulldogs to an overall record of 27-11 and a quarterfinal appearance. For that reason, Jones has been named as The Gazette’s Coach of the Year for boy’s basketball in Evangeline Parish
The two seasons prior to this one, Ville Platte competed in Class 2A. During that two-year span, the Bulldogs dominated, recording an overall record of 43-15 and an appearance in the Top 28.
But, with re-classification, Ville Platte was forced to move up in class. However, Jones and his coaching staff made sure that his team were more that ready to make the jump to next level.
“I felt coming into the season that we had the experience needed to compete on the next level,” stated Jones. “The seniors of this year had already had a taste of Class 3A their freshman year and a lot of them got some major minutes of playing time. With that and the fact that we beefed up the schedule this year, I had it in my mind that we would be ready by the time the playoffs rolled around.”
One of the things that Jones did not and could not prepare for was the key injuries that struck his team early on in the season.
“To do what we did with having to play a lot of guys was pretty good,” said Jones. “I was proud at how our team responded to the adversity. Our losses this season were to some solid teams. We could have let the injuries to Jahmal (Byers) and Tyler (Jones) disrupt our season, but we stayed strong and did what was necessary to win games.”
With the tremendous response from the players, Ville Platte settled in once district play began. The Bulldogs rumbled through their league opponents with only one slip-up, a loss to Northwest early on in district competition.
Nevertheless, the resiliency of the team allowed Ville Platte to defeat the Raiders the second time they face off, forcing an extra game to determine who would be crowned district champions.
With all the Bulldogs in tow, Ville Platte took down Northwest in that bonus contest and took home the league crown.
Injuries were not the only hardship the Bulldogs had to face this season. During two points in the year, Jones was afflicted with the flu, forcing his coaching staff to take control of the wheel.
But, according to Jones, having the right assistant coaches makes it easier to turn over the reigns in tough situations.
“The assistant coaches I have on my staff are some of the best in the state,” commented Jones. “They have been around me and the game for a long time and they know what it is we are trying to accomplish. Without Coach Launey (Coward), Coach Bryant (Richard), and Coach (John) Babineaux it would be much harder.”
This past season was bittersweet for Jones, as his son Tyler was one of the many seniors that played their last game for the Bulldogs. Jones reflected on his senior class with fond memories.
“I am definitely going to miss their work ethic, on and off the court,” stated Jones. “I never had any issues with them as far as discipline or grades. They were one of the best all-around classes to every come out of here.”