District 5-4A teams tested for playoffs _lowres

Advocate Photo by Brad Kemp St. Thomas More forward DeVante' Benjamin (3) drives to the basket and is fouled by Breaux Bridge's Codarian Duhon (22) during their game at STM Friday Jan. 16, 2015 in Lafayette, La. Breaux Bridge's Tyrick Patt, left, helps out on the play.

This season’s District 5-4A boys basketball race was like a heavyweight title fight, with St. Martinville, St. Thomas More and Teurlings Catholic all slugging it out for supremacy.

Now that it’s over and the playoff brackets have been released, the teams feel the experience helped prepare them for the challenges postseason play will throw at them.

Each of the teams beat each other during the regular season, with the district title coming down to a final playoff game between No. 13 St. Thomas More and No. 14 St. Martinville to determine the district title.

St. Martinville outlasted the Cougars, earning a top-eight seed in the playoffs.

St. Thomas More coach Danny Broussard said the tight race showed each team could take a punch and come back to win close games.

“In the (district playoff game), we were down 15 and ended up coming back and taking a two-point lead before losing on the last play,” Broussard said. “We can tell our kids that is exactly how you’re going to have to battle in the playoffs.”

The neutral site, overtime game helped simulate a playoff atmosphere for both teams, something Broussard said will help the Cougars and Tigers in later rounds.

Teurlings coach Jake Dueitt said the constant matchups with playoff-caliber teams has both the Rebels and the No. 14 Cougars believing their seeding should be higher than the bracket shows.

“You didn’t get any breaks throughout the season. You didn’t get any nights off,” Dueitt said. “I think that will prepare us for the rest of the way. I definitely think both us and St. Thomas More are better than a 13 and 14 seed.”

“I feel like teams better be ready to play us or they will get knocked off.”

Five teams from District 5-4A advanced to the playoffs, with No. 24 Northside and No. 26 Cecilia rounding out the group.

“I truly believe that there’s some districts that are weaker than ours top to bottom,” Dueitt said. “Having to go on the road to these gyms and battle every night, we are battled-tested and prepare for anything.”

“We’re going to see the benefits of that over the next two of three weeks as we keep going on this playoff run.”

Both Broussard and Dueitt said they want every team from their district to advance to the next round.

Part of it is friendly competition, part of it because it will show the rest of the state just how difficult it was for all the teams in the area to win the amount of games they did in the regular season.

“Coach Dueitt and I were just talking about how we think each of the team’s in the playoffs has a chance to win in the first round,” Broussard said. “I really don’t see a team where you’d say there is no way they could pull it off. This is the most balanced our district has been.”

“I think you’ll see all of us rooting for each other once the games start,” Dueitt said.