Third-year Eunice boys basketball coach Chad Andrepont couldn’t stop smiling and celebrating.
The afterglow was obvious for a program that had to push aside a frustrating two-year stretch of constant losing to hoist the school’s first St. Landry Parish tournament championship in a decade.
“They’ve been working really hard for the last three years,” Andrepont said. “I guess all of those tough losses are kind of paying off this year. The guys are excited and working hard. We’re winning games now.”
The payoff for such a taxing time in which Eunice lost 42 of 56 games has been a rebirth of sorts, winning its first four games of the season and 10 of 13, culminated with last Saturday’s 48-45 victory over Port Barre in the final of the St. Landry Parish tournament.
The Bobcats (10-3) take on their next challenge when unbeaten Christian Life Academy (10-0) visits Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a complete surprise,” Andrepont said. “It’s something we’ve seen over the last few years. The work they’ve put in. We thought this type of year was possible, although I’m not sure winning 10 of first 13 was something we thought about.”
Andrepont returned to his alma mater four years ago after serving on the staff at Christian Life, which won the Class 1A state championship in his final season at the Baton Rouge school.
After a year on staff, Andrepont was promoted to head coach, and the Bobcats went 14-42, including 5-22 last season.
“Coach (Paul) Trosclair, who was my football coach, asked me if I wanted to come home,” Andrepont said. “I thought it would be great to give back to the kids and the community the way they gave back to me.”
Andrepont said the nucleus of this year’s team remained intact throughout the exasperating times associated with losing. The foundation for this year’s success was established in the summer where the Bobcats started to signs of a turnaround, winning their share of games.
Guard Kevin Williams is one of six juniors, some of whom had varying roles as freshmen, who leads Eunice with a 17-point average. Fellow junior Malik Poullard provides the team with a perimeter shooter, while senior Travis Godfrey handles the necessary traits of a forward with his rebounding and defense.
Junior Georrein Dupre has started and come off the bench, bringing a spark and relieving Williams of the team’s ball-handling duties. Terrell Poullard is another reserve who gave his team a lift with 12 points in the parish final.
“With this group, we talked about winning the parish tournament, getting to the playoffs (the last time was 2001) and competing for a district championship,” Andrepont said. “We saw the kids grow in the summer. We knew this was a possibility, but you still have to go out and do it.”
Eunice lost to Carencro and Comeaux — a pair of Class 5A teams — and also dropped a 55-39 decision to Port Barre in a tournament at Teurlings.
Eunice trailed Port Barre 24-16 at halftime before Williams ignited a 14-0 spurt with six of his team-high 17 points.
The lead changed hands midway through the fourth quarter when Williams gave his team the lead for good (41-39) with just over three minutes remaining, setting the scene for a jubilant postgame.
“The impressive part is to see the kids actually believe after they’ve lost so much,” Andrepont said. “I’ve always coached togetherness. If things are going good or bad, we’re all going through it together. It’s really cool to see.”