Destrehan entered 7-5A competition with a strong 15-4 record
After winning four of its last five regular season games to rally into the playoffs, a Destrehan team with a depleted frontcourt fell on the road at LaGrange, 94-71, bringing its season to an end.
The Wildcats (19-11), the No. 21 seed, were without center Mako Marin, who was injured in the regular season’s second to last game. Destrehan’s draw was immediately unforgiving in that regard, with LaGrange (22-9) boasting 6-foot-6 center Darrell Washington as one of its major threats at both ends of the court.
“We really lost the game on the boards,” said Destrehan coach Todd Bourg. “Not having Mako certainly hurt us. I thought we could push the ball and maybe get some easy baskets before the big monster gets down there. And we did score 71 … but we just couldn’t get our defense where it needed to be this year and we saw it there again.”
The loss interrupted the Wildcats’ best stretch of basketball since the district play began the first week of January. Destrehan entered 7-5A competition with a strong 15-4 record, but lost seven of its first eight district games.
“Every night’s a tough one in our district, and we were really struggling to stop teams,” Bourg said.
An adjustment to the starting lineup and rotation sparked a turnaround, though. Instead of starting two big men and three guards as Destrehan had most of the season, Bourg opted to start four guards and one forward/center. The now-quicker Wildcats were able to get out and guard better on the perimeter and cause matchup problems at the offensive end. And for the team’s bigs, it also alleviated problems with foul trouble, effectively ensuring less situations where both starters would have to sit at the same time.
Destrehan won four in a row, besting East St. John, Central Lafourche, H.L. Bourgeois and Terrebonne, the last of those victories coming on the road via a last second game-winning shot by J.R. Blood. It all added up to the Wildcats’ first playoff berth since 2015.
“We had trouble stopping their big guys, but they had trouble stopping our guards,” Bourg said of the late season games. “We were able to go out and get some big wins. Blood hit the big shot at the buzzer at Terrebonne. We started playing pretty well.”