As its community rebuilt after a hurricane, Destrehan re-established its boys basketball program.
The Wildcats’ 2021-22 season came to a close as they fell 65-51 to Natchitoches Central Tuesday night, eliminating the Wildcats from the Class 5A playoffs in round two. But this was a season that saw Destrehan earn its first playoff victory since 2011 – which came in the first playoff game it’s hosted since that year, as well – win a share of the District 7-5A crown, embark on a 14-game winning streak to rise as high as the No. 3 ranked team in the state, and make its newly renovated home gym a place to be feared, going unbeaten inside those walls.
Destrehan did not qualify for the playoffs last year, thus this was a tremendous leap for the Wildcats.
“We accomplished a lot of good things this season,” said Destrehan head coach Troy Green, who wraps up his second season with the team. “Going unbeaten at home, I’m very proud of that. That’s not easy to do. We saw a lot of good teams … we faced several of them in our district and came out the top-seeded team (from 7-5A). We have a lot to be proud of.”
Destrehan (26-6) entered the postseason as the No. 9 seed in 5A, meaning after a first-round victory against St. Amant, they were set to hit the road for the matchup with Natchitoches Central, the state runner-up in Class 5A last season.
It was a close matchup throughout, but experience may have been the deciding factor in the end. Natchitoches made a fourth quarter run to jump ahead by eight after the teams managed little separation from one another over the first three quarters, and Destrehan was unable to close the gap.
“We had to start fouling them at that point, and they made their free throws,” Green said. “We didn’t help ourselves out at the line. It’s been trouble for us all year, and we missed too many. It became the difference in the game.”
Four seniors will depart from this year’s group, but Destrehan will bring back several key members of its rotation. The Wildcats’ employed a very deep rotation throughout the season, complementing their full-court pressing style, and the team won’t lack for experience this fall.
The two playoff games provided valuable lessons to draw from for the returning players, Green said.
“It was their first time as a team being in that situation,” said Green. “So, in the future, when we get to that point and hopefully beyond, this is a spot where they can remember being there on the road and try to learn from that. Next year, they won’t be strangers to the situation.”