It may not qualify as a huge revelation that Lafayette High’s basketball team is atop the District 3-5A race heading into Friday’s 7 p.m. matchup with Carencro.
The consensus among the league’s coaches was that the Lions, with a senior-laden team led by Louisiana-Lafayette signee Corey Davis, would be the class of the league.
Lafayette (15-3) hasn’t disappointed with a 4-0 start in district play — part of the team’s six-game win streak — but it’s not far from their collective minds the crossroads the season was at three weeks ago.
The Lions rattled off eight consecutive wins to begin the season before incurring back-to-back losses to Class 1A powers Madison Prep and Lafayette Christian — the latter which turned into an 84-34 nightmare.
A week later, after some soul- searching and time back in the gym, Lafayette found a bit of solace in defeat, losing 65-61 to Helen Cox in the second round of the St. Martinville Holiday Shootout.
Since that juncture the Lions have won six straight games, including a 69-48 victory over St. Martinville in the same tournament and four successive league games by an average of 15 points.
“It was a good opportunity to let us know we had the confidence to play with some of the upper echelon teams in the state,” Brown said of the four-point loss to Helen Cox, which has an unofficial power rating of No. 2 in Class 5A. “We felt we could, but once we got punched in the face a little bit at Madison Prep, it kind of shook our confidence. That was a big confidence booster to play with the likes of Helen Cox.”
Brown said the time in between the Madison Prep and St. Martinville tournaments was spent refining fundamentals with an eye toward shoring up the team’s defense, which was shredded for a season-high 84 points in the loss to LCA.
“We needed to regroup and get back in the gym, because there are some things you take for granted as the season goes on,” he said. “The offense was there, but we concentrated on defense. Then as district started we didn’t shoot the ball well, and we had to get a better balance and worked on both.”
Lafayette averaged 41 points in district wins over Comeaux and Barbe at home before traveling to Sam Houston and exploding for an 82-48 victory Tuesday.
The Lions capped the first of three, two-game road swings in the league with a 63-48 win over Sulphur.
“We started off district sort of out of sync offensively, but we were doing well defensively,” Brown said. “We sort of came out of our shooting slump by the third game and right now we’re trying be balanced and playing good basketball right now. Hopefully that carries over to the Carencro game because they’re playing good basketball also.”
Defensively, LHS hasn’t allowed a team to reach 60 points since the Helen Cox game, which coincidentally is the last time the Lions tasted defeat.
“Defense is something we have to hang our hat on,” Brown said. “We’ve talked about being able to make stops. We know we can score, but we have to get stops when things are not working well offensively. That’s going to come and go. The thing that can be consistent is playing tough defense.”
LHS has scored 70 or more points eight times with a season-high of 98 against Westgate.
Davis is at the apex of a balanced scoring attack with an 18-point average followed by 6-foot-5 senior Christian Freeman (14) and senior guard Keandre Broussard (12).
Seniors Deontre Johnlouis and Jermel Andrus are also starters for the Lions with sophomores Ahmad Onezime and Trevan Figaro supplying a spark off the team’s bench.
“We’re a senior-laden squad and expected to do well,” Brown said. “We’ve got to get better every game, and every night we have to come with the focus and ready to play. Any slip-ups or lulls and we can get ourselves in a bind.”