Plenty at stake in St. Thomas More-Teurlings showdown _lowres

The Advocate photo by BRAD KEMP St. Thomas More players Trevor Begue, back, and Andrew Recatto battle St. Martinville's Andre Doucet (24) for a loose ball last Friday at STM.

It’s not like Teurlings Catholic and St. Thomas More needed any additional fodder to bolster their athletics rivalry.

On the basketball floor this year, they are two of three teams chasing the District 5-4A championship with one of those — Teurlings — leading the pack with three games remaining.

Moreover, Teurlings edged St. Thomas More in their first meeting 36-35, giving Friday’s rematch at STM an additional kick for the 7:30 p.m. start.

“We’re expecting a great crowd,” said Teurlings coach Jake Duiett, whose team is 22-7 and 7-1 in district. “They do a great job of having a great atmosphere. It’s going to be a fun high school atmosphere. That’s why you play. They’re going to be ready to go, and their fans will be excited.”

STM (18-8, 7-2) finds itself in a second-place tie with St. Martinville (20-8, 7-2) and nearing the Top 16 bubble (rated 15th in latest LHSAA unofficial power rating) to host a Class 4A state playoff game.

“The last time we didn’t host a first-round playoff game was six or seven years ago,” STM coach Danny Broussard said. “The whole scenario is important to us. We’ve got a long way to go. We have to win this one first and tie it up.”

The Teurlings-STM game represents a relatively light night involving games that could decide district championships in the Acadiana area.

One such game exists with Lafayette Christian Academy (23-3, 9-0) hosting Central Catholic of Morgan City (12-11, 8-2) with a chance to clinch the District 7-1A title with two games to play.

Beau Chene (17-6, 6-1) looks to hold onto a share of the District 4-4A lead with a home game against LaGrange (13-14, 6-2). The Gators share the top spot with Washington-Marion, which handed them a 90-74 home loss Tuesday.

Dueitt said his team’s Jan. 20 home win over STM represented the second in school history over the Cougars in the past 30 years.

So getting a season sweep would appear to come with long odds, but the Rebels are riding a wave of confidence and momentum thanks to a six-game win streak and 11 wins in their past 12 games.

TCHS improved its record to 15-5 in games decided by 10 points or less with a 66-65 victory over St. Martinville on Tuesday that vaulted the Rebels into sole possession of first place.

“It’s a cross-town rival we haven’t beaten many times, and when you get the chance to not only knock them off once, but twice, our kids will be ready to go,” Dueitt said. “They know what’s at stake. They’re excited. Coming off a big, emotional win everybody’s feeling good right now.”

Six-foot-seven junior center Cole Kelley, who scored 30 points in the win over St. Martinville, leads TCHS with a 24-point average. Senior forward Ike Hidalgo averages 10 points.

STM has rattled off five wins in its past six games since the first TCHS game, including a narrow 50-49 win over Breaux Bridge after a 59-52 loss to St. Martinville that knocked the Cougars out of a tie for the league lead.

Center Peter Kisbaugh is STM’s top scorer at 12 points with guards Devante Benjamin and Trevor Begue adding 11.2 and 10.3 points.

“To play such great defense and get beat was a tough one,” Broussard said of the first TCHS matchup. “We expect to win those types of games. We had the last shot to win it, and it didn’t go in. That’s the game of basketball.”