Comeaux boys basketball team feels at home on the road _lowres

Advocate Photo by Brad Kemp -- Comeaux's Michael Smith gets off a shot during the Sunkist Shootout at St. Thomas More in December 2015.

When Comeaux hosts New Iberia in the District 3-5A opener for both teams at 7 p.m. Tuesday, it will be the Spartans’ second appearance on their home floor this season.

Instead of staying at home and potentially padding their win total against lesser competition, the Spartans (12-6) have ventured away to play 17 games, including an appearance in Saturday’s Joel Hawkins Classic at Southern University.

Comeaux suffered its worst loss of the season 58-40 to reigning Class 4A state champion Landry-Walker.

“We dropped a home game to play Landry-Walker,” coach Jeremy Whittington said. “We’re only going to have eight (regular-season) home games this year. I think we’ve played one of the toughest games in the state.”

It’s hard to argue with Whittington’s method — trying to prepare his team for not only the grind of a 12-game district schedule but a potentially deep postseason run as well.

“The preseason schedule we played was pretty tough,” he said. “Right now these kids couldn’t be any more prepared. There’s nothing else I could do as a coach to prepare us for district.”

It has been more than two weeks since Comeaux last played at home, dropping a 76-74 decision to H.L. Bourgeois.

With New Iberia (10-8) coming to town for the start of league play, Comeaux will have the luxury of being able to turn to its home crowd for motivation and energy. The Spartans are hosting a Yellow Jackets team that has won five of its past six games.

“New Iberia will play us as tough as anyone,” Whittington said. “They’ll get up in your hip and get after you.”

Of the opponents Comeaux has faced to date, 15 have winning records, with 12 already having won 10 games or more.

The Spartans reeled off eight straight wins to start the season, including perfect finishes in tournaments at Catholic High of Baton Rouge and Teurlings Catholic.

They faltered for the first time against Ellender (56-40) in the H.L. Bourgeois tournament and lost at Natchitoches Central (49-37) to complete a home-and-home contract.

Then came St. Thomas More’s Sunkist Shootout, where Comeaux went 3-1, responding to a 40-38 loss to Carencro with wins over St. Augustine (42-37) and Slidell (63-33) to finish fifth in the 16-team field.

“I know what we did was the right thing,” Whittington said. “We took some bumps and took some losses to quality teams. We had to know where we matched up against those teams.”

Comeaux will play consecutive home games this week, hosting reigning district champion Lafayette High (7-7) on Friday.

The Spartans won’t have to face consecutive district road trips in the same week but will begin the second round of league play Jan. 29 at New Iberia and will travel to Lafayette on Feb. 2.

“If our kids come to play in district with the way we’ve played our preseason schedule,” Whittington said, “we’ll have a chance to do really well in this district.”