Walker vs. Live Oak boys Trent Montgomery, DaDa Capling

Walker High's Trent Montgomery (30) soars to the goal past Live Oak's DaDa Capling in a nondistrict clash.

Walker boys basketball: Trent Montgomery head shot

Montgomery

WALKER – When Walker High's on defense for its first possession in Thursday’s Class 5A state semifinal at 4:45 p.m. senior Trent Montgomery will be matched with Ouachita Parish’s Myron Washington.

According to the team’s scouting report it will be an encounter of the two team’s centers, but it’s hardly a physical matchup that’s tipped in the Wildcats favor.

Not on paper anyway.

At 6-foot-3, Montgomery’s thickly-built, a byproduct of his playing wide receiver in football, and the assignment he’ll undertake at Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles will be to guard Washington, the opposing team’s tallest player at 6-8 and with great length.

It won’t be the first time Montgomery will be considered undersized going into a game, but it’s a challenge he readily embraces when the tape measure’s not in his favor.

Montgomery compensates in other areas, starting with tremendous desire and leaping ability, enabling him to play well above the rim. His physical attributes allow him to fill the lanes on fast break opportunities and drive around and past larger, slower-of-foot centers.

“That’s what we keep reminding him, he’s such a great athlete he can guard anybody – post player or point guard,” Walker coach Anthony Schiro said. “He’s quick, long. We can match him up anywhere. He can block or alter shots. He takes pride in his defense and that’s where it starts. If we’re playing good defense, then we’re usually playing good basketball.”

Montgomery offers an ear-to-ear grin when asked about his defensive prowess. He’s the team’s third-leading scorer at 8.1 points and is a 55 percent shooter from the field, but his greatest reward is helping to put teeth into Walker’s interior defense along with Brian Thomas and emerging freshman Donald Butler.

“I rather play defense than offense sometimes,” Montgomery said. “I know I can keep the crowd hyped on defense. Coach will remind me the person I’m usually guarding is 6-5 or 6-6 and to use my quickness and athleticism to get around him and get the ball. I enjoy blocking shots a lot.”

A year ago, during Walker’s run to the its first Class 5A state championship, Montgomery was parked behind two of the teams top post players in Jalen Perkins – a Class 5A All-State selection – and Josh Cook.

Denham Springs at Walker boys basketball Trent Montgomery T.J. Magee

Walker High’s Trent Montgomery (30) can defend the opposing team's point guard, in this case earlier in the season against Denham Springs High's T.J. Magee (10).

Montgomery was content to play his role, learning from both Perkins and Cook in practice where he took those lessons into a game for whatever length of time and try give the Wildcats a boost, namely on the defensive end.

“He’s tough,” Walker guard Jalen Cook, who played on the same Walker Biddy All-Star team when the two were 5-6-years-old. “His motor is what gets him over other players. He’s been learning from Perk (Perkins) and Josh and that’s what made him tougher and more experienced. Trent’s been there, done that and playing hard this year. He was ready.”

Montgomery admitted to a change of heart in his athletic passions, shifting from football to basketball his freshman year.

That didn’t stopped him from being a valuable member of the Wildcats football team where Montgomery - a two-year starter - earned honorable mention All-District 4-5A honors at wide receiver with 26 catches for 532 yards (21 yards per catch) and four touchdowns during the regular season.

Walker vs. DSHS Xavier Miles, Trent Montgomery

Walker High's Trent Montgomery (30) tries to time his block against Denham Springs' Xavier Miles earlier this season.

“Football was my first love when I was younger,” said Montgomery, who has already visited Centenary and will visit LSU Eunice after the season. “Since I’ve gotten older and grown up, basketball’s my No. 1 love.”

Montgomery seized an opportunity to move into the team’s starting lineup, where for the first time in his career he could bring the same effort and energy from the start of a game with Perkins and Josh Cook having graduated.

He hasn’t disappointed but has shown examples down of the stretch of elevating his game as a bigger scoring to go in concert with his defensive play.

That began in Walker’s 77-56 win over Central that clinched the school’s first league crown since 1978 when Montgomery scored 15 points. That trend continued in the Wildcats playoff-opening win (92-53) over H.L. Bourgeois where he triggered an early 18-0 avalanche with a pair of crowd-pleasing slam dunks.

In last Friday’s 66-52 quarterfinal win over Landry-Walker, Montgomery scored eight first-half points and was one of four double-figure scorers with 11 points.

“He accepts the challenge and that’s what we talk about,” Schiro said. “He knows his role is very important for us. Without him we would have a hard time getting rebounds, getting out in transition and ultimately, it would lead to us having a hard time winning games.”

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