Destrehan Wildcats hoops off to hot start behind defense

Jalvin Michael and Destrehan have won seven of their first nine games.

After finishing last season just short of making the Class 5A playoffs, an experienced core of players has Destrehan surging on the basketball court to begin the season.

The Wildcats are 7-2 thus far, among their key wins so far victories over McDonogh No. 35, Slidell, Warren Easton and Ellender.
Destrehan coach Todd Bourg says this is a hungry group that draws upon six seniors within its rotation.

“We’ve been playing team basketball. We’re a little more disciplined and having that experience with the seniors helps,” Bourg said. “We’ve got a little more depth this year and our inside game was been strong.”

Among the team’s frontcourt players are a pair of 6-foot-5 forwards with length, Zalvin Michael and Mako Marin. Michael emerged last season and gave the Wildcats quality minutes in the interior. Marin, a transfer from Hahnville prior to the 2016-17 school year, was injured for much of last season and his presence was missed.

But this season, Destrehan has both, and its rebounding and defensive showings have reflected it. The Wildcats’ zone defense has kept teams out of the paint and made scoring a chore for the opposition.

“We’re long and we’re using that length to play our zone,” Bourg said. “It’s created some challenges for our opponents.”

The Wildcats have also been led by a balanced crew of scorers. But one weakness has shown in the ball-handling area. Bourg noted that in the team’s two losses this season, to Chalmette and Shaw, those teams were able to successfully pressure the ball and force turnovers.

Help is on the way there, as guards J.R. Blood and Tyler Morton will be available going forward, after missing the early portion of the season while competing for Destrehan’s football team that made a playoff run to the state semifinals.

“I feel like we’re set up well to keep going strong,” Bourg said. “We’ve had a few good wins, and we’ve been keeping everyone down in scoring. If we can shoot with a little more consistency from the outside, we should be in really good shape. We’re gonna keep pounding the ball inside and going inside-out with it.”

Destrehan begins play today at the H.L. Bourgeois tournament. Then, on Monday, the Wildcats will host John Ehret. Tipoff is set for 6:30 p.m.

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