As a way of shifting the team’s focus to the next phase of the season, Gueydan’s girls basketball team, like most groups, typically divide their season into three segments.
But the Honeybears, who are about to truly embark on their District 7-1A season, will have a hard time putting a memorable predistrict finish in the rear-view mirror.
“We have to forget about what happened in the preseason,” said Gueydan coach Randall Bertrand, who in his eighth season. “We’re strictly into district and getting back down to business.”
When Gueydan (10-3) returns to practice Sunday to begin preparation for three District 7-1A games this week, they will likely reflect favorably on what is believed to be the program’s first championship in the Vermilion Catholic Yuletide Classic.
The Honeybears grinded out a pair of victories over North Vermilion (29-21) and Lafayette Christian Academy (40-31) before all-tournament selections Ashari Terry and Ke’ara Charles combined for 24 points in a 44-32 victory over the host Eagles on Wednesday.
“When we won our first game, I thought we may have a chance,” Bertrand said. “Normally we’ve started on the losers side of the bracket. It was awesome. I was on cloud nine and wondered if it just happened.”
Gueydan’s march to the holiday title extended its win streak to seven games, setting the stage for the Honeybears (10-3, 1-0) three-game stretch in District 7-1A play at Central Catholic-Morgan City (9-4, 2-0) on Monday.
Gueydan, which took a 47-23 district-opening win over Hanson two days before Christmas, returns home to host Centerville (5-4, 0-1) on Tuesday and Ascension Episcopal (6-7, 0-2) on Friday.
“If you get to the finals of that (Yuletide) tournament, then you’ve done some work,” Bertrand said. “To win it, you’ve done something sensational.”
Gueydan proved one significant point to their coach: They are capable of closing tight games.
Bertrand went back to last year’s Class 1A regional playoff loss (53-44) to Merryville to illustrate an issue his team had holding onto lead in the latter stages of games.
In losses this season to Class 2A Iota (45-42) and Class 3A Jennings (44-39), the Honeybears failed to secure victories after leading the majority of the game, he said.
Gueydan advanced through the Yuletide field with a pair of single-digit wins before Charles helped clamp down on VC star guard Jay Demouchet. The Honeybears also made all the plays and more importantly, didn’t wilt under the pressure of the Eagles and their boisterous crowd.
“Normally we would have folded in a pressure situation,” Bertrand said. “The gym was packed. I told them it was like a playoff.”
Although forward Nya Boudreaux is the team’s lone senior, Gueydan does have experience in its favor with juniors T’nia Leger and Charles, both starters since the seventh grade.
Balanced scoring, with Terry and Charles the team’s only double-digit scorers, is another hallmark of Gueydan’s success, along with solid man-to-man defense and rebounding going into district followed by the playoffs.
“We’re going to build on this, and hopefully we can make a run through the district,” Bertrand said. “I don’t want to be overconfident. The kids know they’ve still got to go out there and play to their potential.”