Sunkist Shootout provides momentum for second half of season for Acadiana-area teams _lowres

Advocate photo by Brad Kemp St. Thomas More's Trevor Begue, back, and William Vincent, front, trap Catholic-New Iberia's Semaj Flugence in a Sunkist Shootout game Saturday at STM.

This week marked the 31st season for the St. Thomas More Sunkist Shootout, and Acadiana teams came away as victors, in wins and preparation for the second half of the season.

The Acadiana area was represented in all four games on the final day of the tournament and three of them came away with victories as Comeaux defeated Slidell for fifth place, STM topped Carencro for third place and Lafayette Christian won the tournament with a big win against North Caddo.

Tournament host STM won all its games except with runner-up North Caddo and finishing with a tough win against Carencro in an early look at District 4-4A.

“I’m not sure you ever see that much intensity or that hustle in a third-place game very often,” STM coach Danny Broussard said.

In addition to success on the court, the Cougars also garnered success at the gate, as the tournament, stacked with some of the best teams in the state, brought in some of the largest crowds in the tournament history, Broussard said.

“What a great atmosphere it was for high school basketball,” Broussard said. “I’m really proud of our tournament. This may be one of the best group of 16 teams we’ve ever had that really competed. It’s been a good, fun tournament. We shattered our attendance record. It’s probably been the best Sunkist Shootout ever.”

The Knights won their second consecutive tournament in as many weeks, defeating four top-tier teams in four close games.

LCA’s opponents of Ellender, St. Augustine, Carencro and North Caddo have a combined record of 48-18. That level of competition is something that coach Byron Starks said has helped his team prepare for the upcoming district season, and more importantly the postseason.

“All these games are preparing us, and I think our guys have gotten used to the physicality and the speed of the game,” Starks said. “We’ve seen everything from 6-foot-10 centers all the way down to 5-foot-11 guards in every type of game. We’re prepared for just about anything, and I think our guys are a real-seasoned team, and we’re ready for anything.”

St. Thomas More and Lafayette Christian still have one more big tournament to look forward to next week as they compete in the Allstate Sugar Bowl CYO basketball tournament, and as luck would have it, the two teams will play against each other in the first round.

“Can you believe that?” Broussard said. “In a way, I’m kind of glad we didn’t have to play them here, because we would have to turn around and play LCA in the Sugar Bowl tournament right off the bat. Boy, they didn’t take it easy on us, did they?”