A year after having to tear Crowley’s basketball team to its foundation, second-year coach Jason Lewis has achieved his intended formula: structure plus discipline equals success.
Crowley won three games and had one district victory to its credit before Lewis’ arrival following a successful stint at Basile.
The Gents raised their standard last season, winning 10 games and three in league play, while undergoing a roster purge that included the dismissal of as many as eight players, including three seniors.
“It was a culture I was trying to change,” Lewis said. “They saw what I stood for.”
With a month of the season nearly elapsed, Crowley (10-1) has already matched last year’s victory total going into Tuesday’s 7 p.m. home game with Abbeville (4-2).
But it’s the remainder of the season that’s got Lewis excited.
“We sat down at the beginning of the year and wanted double-digit wins again,” Lewis said. “Of course, we want to sneak into the playoffs. Some people look at our schedule and say we haven’t played anybody, but some of those games were tougher than people think.”
Crowley won its first seven games before its lone defeat — allowing a six-point lead to get away in the fourth quarter and result in a 57-55 home setback to Eunice.
“We had the ball under the goal with a chance to tie it,” Lewis said. “We got fouled on the shot and missed both free throws.”
Not much else has gone against Crowley, which has followed a more deliberate, role-oriented path to success.
Crowley has won tournament titles at Sacred Heart-Ville Platte, Westminster Christian and Pine Prairie. They will look to make it four when the Gents open play Saturday against Midland in the Rebels’ Holiday Spectacular.
Arguably the biggest test came a day after Crowley lost to Eunice, trailing by 15 points at one stretch to Class 2A’s David Thibodeaux of Lafayette in the Pine Prairie event.
The Gents utilized full-court pressure to get back into the game, and sophomore Josh Burnett sent the game into overtime with a layup before going on to win 67-63.
Two games later, Crowley found itself in another tense battle, losing a late lead in regulation against Pine Prairie before making free throws in overtime and eventually winning 85-75 in a second overtime.
“We’ve been battle tested,” Lewis said.
Three starters returned from a year ago, but Crowley has played without the services of top player Jacq’co Price, who suffered an injury in the football team’s Class 4A state quarterfinal.
A rotation of 10 players has enabled the Gents to capitalize on their depth with Burnett leading the way with 19 points, 6-foot-7 junior center Chris Osten supplying 14 points and sixblocks and junior forward Travon Nickson adding nine points.
“It’s going to be a good test for us,” Lewis said of Abbeville. “It’s a special group of kids we have this year.”