In year one under head coach Troy Green, Destrehan learned his way of doing things on the basketball court.
In year two, the Wildcats have made a leap.
As Destrehan (18-4) prepares for a key District 7-5A showdown at home Friday night with East St. John, it’s already made quite a statement to the prep basketball landscape. The Wildcats have been ranked as high as No. 3 in Class 5A power points, and headed into Tuesday night’s game against a powerful Madison Prep squad, the team stood at No. 9.
Though Madison captured the win there, what was a struggling Destrehan program has turned completely around under Green, who guided his alma mater White Castle to a pair of state championships prior to his arrival at DHS. Destrehan won 13 straight games at one point this season, and the loss on Tuesday snapped what was a four-game win streak over H.L. Bourgeois, Central Lafourche, Terrebonne and Northside.
The latter of those, a 61-60 victory on Monday in Lake Charles, saw the Wildcats fight back from an 18-point deficit to lead by as many as nine in the fourth quarter. DHS held off Northside’s own rally to earn the one-point win, and it’s hardly the first time Destrehan has shown an ability to fight back into a game after falling behind significantly – the Wildcats made a similar comeback against Hahnville earlier this month before the Tigers regrouped to nail down the win.
“We made a run … we kept plugging away in the third quarter and in the fourth quarter, and we made a run,” Green said of the Northside win. “To be down 18 at halftime, we came out and pulled it out. We didn’t panic. We just continued to play defense and chugged away, chugged away.”
The win showcased the confidence this team has been playing with, a confidence that continues to grow as the wins pile up.
“The main thing was trying to change our mentality as far as defending,” Green said of the team’s improvement this season. “Playing team basketball. It isn’t going to go our way all the time, but if you do the little things correctly – play defense, share the ball, be on time, take charges, just do what you’re supposed to do – those things add up. And if you don’t do those things, it comes back to hurt you in crucial games.”
That first point, defense, is what the Wildcats hang their hat on. A deep and athletic roster that sees 10 players earn significant playing time night to night allows the Wildcats to go all out with their press, that defense often turns into points at the other end off of turnovers.
Calvin Bullock has been a go-to player for Destrehan. The forward/center has been leading the team in scoring and keys the Wildcats’ inside-out philosophy on offense.
“We try to go through him,” Green said. “We look to go inside first. He’s been playing real steady for us.”
Chris Moore has been coming on strong in recent games, Green said. Devin Fourcha and Daniel Blood have also played consistently well on a roster full of contributors.
While Destrehan has learned to win again on the basketball court, Green said this is hardly a team that doesn’t know how to handle success.
“When you think about it, the majority of our team is used to having success in football,” Green said. “So I don’t think it was that hard to get those guys to understand how to win. And when you win, they realize, ‘Hey, we can play too.’ We just have to go out there and execute, and not get too high or too low.”
East St. John presents a major test and challenge on Friday. ESJ brings a record of 21-5 along with them to Destrehan, and more importantly for this particular battle, is an unbeaten 5-0 in district play.
Destrehan is 3-1 in district play thus far, so this game carries a lot of importance for DHS: a second district loss could render them on the outside looking in in regards to the the district championship race.
“They’re in the top 10 in 5A,” said Green. “That’s a very talented team and they’re doing a good job over there. Hopefully we can go out, play well and protect our home court.”