Late surge lifts Carencro over Leesville _lowres

Advocate photo by Buddy Delahoussaye-- Carencro boys basketball coach Christopher Kovatch about serving as an assistant coach in the LHSCA all-star game: 'It’s an exciting thing and definitely an honor. I look forward to representing the area and Carencro High. It’s a sign that we’ve established something here.'

Carencro’s basketball program hasn’t been the same since the arrival of coach Christopher Kovatch 16 years ago.

The Bears were firmly regarded as a football school, boasting the Acadiana area’s first state championship in 1992 and the school has been a playoff fixture since.

A year after inheriting a winless basketball team, Kovatch has since established a winning program at Carencro, one that’s averaged 19 to 20 wins in the past decade, including a 23-10 mark and second-round appearance in the Class 4A state regionals this season.

For his efforts Kovatch has not only raised the profile of Carencro’s program but earned a measure of respect from his peers with his selection as an assistant coach for the West All-Stars in Saturday’s LHSCA East-West All-Star basketball game.

“It’s an exciting thing and definitely an honor,” Kovatch said. “I look forward to representing the area and Carencro High. It’s a sign that we’ve established something here.”

The LHSCA all-star event, which is set for Bossier Parish Community College, gets under way at 1 p.m. with the girls game followed by the boys at 3:30 p.m.

Five players from the Acadiana area will join forces with Kovatch, who will assist Plain Dealing’s David Bryant and lead the West team. That group includes twins Jacob and Kalob Ledoux of Lafayette Christian Academy, Aradan Adams of Carencro, Ignatius Patt of Breaux Bridge and DeVantè Benjamin of St. Thomas More.

“I’ve attended it as a spectator and been on the selection committee,” Kovatch said. “This will be my first time to coach in it.”

Breaux Bridge point guard Caitlin Davis is one of four girls players representing the Acadiana area, joining Rayne’s Charlesha Dugas, Northside’s Briana Dixon and Midland’s Kristen Breaux.

“I’m very excited, a little bit nervous, but I’ll be ready,” Davis said. “I’ve been shooting and doing conditioning work.”

The all-star invitation is meaningful to Davis, who becomes the first player from Breaux Bridge to participate in the game.

It also helps salvage what turned into a difficult senior season in which Davis, who averaged 28 points, five rebounds and four assists a game, was part of a Breaux Bridge team that finished 8-17 — a year after reaching the Class 4A state quarterfinals.

“Although we didn’t make (the playoffs), I still have a chance to finish my high school career with a bang in the all-star game,” said Davis, a McNeese State signee. “We’ve never had a girl from Breaux Bridge to play in the game before. It’s a first, so I’m excited about that.”

Not only had Carencro failed to win a game the season before Kovatch took over the program, but it’s his understanding the Bears hadn’t enjoyed a double-digit win season since either the late 1980s or early ’90s.

That’s a mark the Bears have reached with regularity, highlighted by consecutive 20-plus win seasons. They stunned St. Augustine in the first round of the Class 5A state playoffs a year ago and enjoyed the taste of postseason success this season before falling to eventual state semifinalist St. Thomas More.

“It means a lot for our school, and personally it means a lot,” Kovatch said of his all-star coaching assignment. “We haven’t gotten here just by wishing or wanting to. It’s taken a lot of work to change the mindset and culture in this area of Lafayette.”