Destrehan girls basketball coach Angi Butler likes what she sees from her senior-laden team so far this season.Who could blame her?
The Wildcats return six seniors from last season’s state quarterfinalist, including Louisiana’s Miss Basketball in Cara Ursin, and have looked the part, largely dominating their competition en route to an unbeaten start to the season through seven games.
Destrehan has felled some longtime foes so far, like Mount Carmel and Natchitoches Central, both postseason rivals in recent years. The Wildcats defeated both in convincing fashion, the latter win significant as it came by 26 points over the NCHS team that eliminated Destrehan in the quarterfinals last season, while Mount Carmel is the defending Class 5A state champion. Another test came during the preseason, as Hahnville bested 5A runner-up Denham Springs by 19 in a scrimmage.
What Butler likes seeing the most from this bunch is the sense of urgency they play with.
“That’s what you tend to get with seniors, and we have a strong group of them,” Butler said. “In the past, we’ve had 2, 3 or 4 seniors. Now, we have a whole handful who are used to winning. Their mantra is to finish, to finish strong and bring home a title.”
The win over Natchitoches Central was, Butler said, the best game she’s seen her team play in a long time.
“We restructured our defense (in response to) the loss in the quarterfinals last year,” Butler said. “We’re clicking on a lot of levels. Our incoming freshmen have added a lot to the mix, along with our seniors. We’ve put an increased emphasis on conditioning so we can make that push late in games. And we have the kind of depth we haven’t had.”
Ursin emerged as one of the nation’s elite players over her first three years at Destrehan, and she signed with Baylor in early November. Ursin said at the signing that one reason for signing when she did was to be able to shift her focus completely on the season.
Along with Ursin, Kiki Kenner and Brandi Mason are the senior captains and leaders of the team.
One of the young players stepping up to gel with them has been talented freshmen guard Korianna Reynaud, who has added punch off the bench after asserting herself during the team’s summer program.
“She’s young, and she’s learning what high school ball is like, getting a little idea of what it’s like to play those state (playoff-level) teams,” Butler said. It’s fun to see her in that environment.”
Destrehan faced Ellender last week and came away with a 92-66 victory. Ursin scored 31, while Kenner and Jerlicia Morris added 25 and 23, respectively.
Destrehan surged through the recent Ursuline tournament, winning each of its three games by 21 points or more.
Against host Ursuline, Destrehan captured a 55-34 win. Ursin scored 20, Brandi Mason scored 15 and Morris scored 12.
The Wildcats defeated Rayville 71-42, paced by Kenner’s 19 point night. Ursin scored 17, Morris 15 and Mason 12 points.
Destrehan dominated start to finish in its win over Mount Carmel, winning 66-30. Ursin (18), Kenner (16) and Morris (13) led the way in that game.
Next week, Destrehan will host a pair of non-district games, with Ponchatoula (6 p.m., JV/V) and Madison Prep (5 p.m., JV/V)visiting Wednesday and Friday, respectively.