When the Lafayette Lions step onto New Iberia’s homecourt Wednesday night, coach Clifton Brown and his team will be playing for an undefeated district season.
But Brown remains cautious and has his team focused and ready for the challenge at hand.
Brown said his team’s motivation this season originates from the Lions first-round playoff loss last year, leaving a bad taste in his players’ mouths.
“Ever since, this team has been hungry to prove what they could do,” Brown said.
The Lions (24-5, 13-0) face a feisty New Iberia squad that held the Lions to 45 points in a tight Jan. 27 matchup that was decided by nine points.
Brown said despite the slow-paced, low-scoring affair he expects a different contest this time around, with New Iberia getting its go-to scorer back into the lineup.
“(New Iberia coach Todd Russ) had his best player, their go-to guy, out last game and thought his best chance to win was to slow the game down,” Brown said.
“They had one possession where they must’ve passed the ball 20 to 30 times.
“I’d be surprised if that’s how this game goes, so we aren’t really sure what to expect.”
Lafayette has used a balanced scoring approach this season, with different players stepping up to fill a scoring void in any given game.
In it latest win against Carencro, all five of Lafayette’s starters reached double digits in points.
Brown said his team’s ability to share the scoring load this season has helped his team become more predictable on offense.
“We’ve preached all year the importance of team success rather than individual scoring,” Brown said. “If one player is having an off night, we know someone else can step up in his place.”
New Iberia has won its past four district games, bringing momentum into a matchup where it will try to stop the Lions from making history.
Brown said in his 19 years as a coach at Lafayette, and his time attending the school before that, he couldn’t remember the Lions ever achieving a perfect district record.
“Even when we won state, we didn’t go undefeated in district,” Brown said. “It would be something really special for the program and for the kids, especially the seniors.”
But even in the face of achieving something Brown can’t ever remember his program achieving, he has his team remembering the feeling of that first-round playoff loss to remind them of last season.
“Sure, we would like to get the (undefeated district) season,” Brown said. “But what (the players) all really want is to do well in the playoffs.”