Fifth-year coach Vincent Hicks didn’t hold back on his David Thibodaux basketball team.
Hicks really let his Bulldogs have it, scheduling Class 4A Abbeville to District 3-5A leader Acadiana, District 4-4A co-leader Northside and also District 8-3A’s top team in Patterson.
While the result hasn’t been a gaudy record, Hicks had more of a long-term eye on where David Thibodaux (12-11) was headed with aspirations of a District 5-2A championship and deep run in the state playoffs.
“I had high expectations for us, so I wanted to make it tougher so we’ll be ready the playoffs and be battle tested,” Hicks said. “We had to do a lot of growing up as a team, but I feel like we’re better for it.”
Despite playing in a district where the three other teams combined have matched David Thibodaux’s win total, Hicks believes his team will remained focused on the task at hand, starting Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. with a home game against Notre Dame (6-15).
“We went to Notre Dame last year and expected to beat them, and they beat us pretty good,” Hicks said. “We’re not underestimating anybody. We prepared ourselves for this district. We’re playing them as if they’re the best team.”
The reasons for such high expectations surrounding David Thibodaux are valid.
With the return of all five starters and all but one senior from last year’s roster, the Bulldogs are not only talented and experienced but hungry following a 71-62 first-round exit at the hands of Rosepine in the Class 2A state playoffs.
“We were sad with the loss, but it was the first time in school history to reach the playoffs,” Hicks said. “We felt good about it going into this season with almost everybody returning.”
Hicks’ predistrict schedule consisted of almost all Class 5A and 4A teams — a combination that contributed to 10 of David Thibodaux’s 11 losses.
There were some close calls that indicated to Hicks his team was up the challenge in games with Class 5A teams such as New Iberia, Comeaux, Lafayette High and Thibodaux.
The Bulldogs lost a late lead and eventually an overtime decision to Crowley, which along with Northside, St. Martinville and Cecilia were 4A challengers on the schedule.
David Thibodaux, which opened the season with a 55-49 win over Class 4A Abbeville, also had a near miss (59-57 loss) against Class 3A Patterson.
Along with a veteran team, the Bulldogs also feature a team with solid guard play led by junior Najja Englenton — the leading scorer at 13.7 points — and senior Trace Johnson (8.1). They help complement an imposing front line paced by 6-foot-6 sophomore Travonte’ Sam (8.4 points, 9.8 rebounds) and 6-4 junior Bruno Tyree (10.4/7.6).
“We wanted to schedule people that won their district last year and see how we matched up,” Hicks said. “I wanted to see if we were as good as we thought we were. I really wanted to challenge them and hopefully we can continue that success through the district.”