Last season was the definition of a rebuilding campaign for the Destrehan Ladycats, who turned over essentially the entire rotation from their powerful 2016-17 Class 5A undefeated state championship team.
But youth has been served, and the Ladycats are back to winning.
Destrehan is off to a 10-5 start, already doubling its win total from a season ago, and is set to begin District 7-5A play tonight on the road at Terrebonne, carrying a renewed confidence and swagger with them.
“I can tell the girls in the locker room who were here last season are so excited,” said Meagan Stock, now in her second year as Destrehan head coach after serving as an assistant on the 2017 state championship squad. “They’re elated to have already done better than last year … I feel like they’re coming together and everything’s starting to fall into place.”
Destrehan has felled several winning squads already, including a recent major rival in Mount Carmel, South Lafourche and West St. John among notable wins.
After a season of teaching younger players, focusing on fundamentals and playing at a slower pace, Stock has unleashed this group to pressure the ball defensively and get out into the open court. That’s translating into points early and often, and Stock says it’s spelled the difference for this year’s much improved team.
“We’re getting a lot of fast break points,” Stock said. “We missed on a lot of easy points last season that we’re making good on now. We’re able to run like we’d like to, and it’s starting to add up for us.”
Sierra Samuels is the team’s lone senior this season, and Stock said her veteran has provided great leadership for her younger teammates. Junior point guard Darielle Richard has emerged as another leader.
“Sierra’s doing everything we need her to do both on and off the court,” Stock said. “Darielle keeps everyone together as far as running plays, controlling pace … they’ve set a great tone for us.”
Richard’s sister, freshman Breion Richard, may be new to the rotation, but she’s made a huge impact nonetheless.
“She brings a whole new level of intensity defensively,” Stock said. “That’s been extremely helpful to us.”
Destrehan went through its first true dry spell of the season early this month when it dropped three of four games, the losses to Karr, Helen Cox and South Terrebonne respectively, sandwiched around a win over East Jefferson.
The Wildcats scored a decisive win over Lutcher to bounce back, earning a 50-34 victory.
Destrehan’s game with Terrebonne tonight is the first of a four game stretch that also includes contests at Newman, a rematch at home with Lutcher and a home date with East Iberville.
Stock said the host Tigers will pose a challenge tonight, and that she anticipates 7-5A to be a balanced district where the competition will stay strong night to night.
“They’re always athletic, and it’ll be no different here,” Stock said. “I think it’ll be a really competitive game.”
Following this four game stretch, which ends Dec. 20, Destrehan will have roughly a two week holiday break before it gears up for its second district contest, one no doubt circled on the calendar of both schools: a clash with archrival Hahnville Jan. 2 at the R.K. Smith Middle School gymnasium.
“We definitely want to close 2018 strong and carry that momentum with us, because with Hahnville and the rest of our district schedule coming up it’s especially important,” Stock said.