Lafayette boys basketball coach Clifton Brown was hesitant upon learning his team was the choice of the coaches in District 3-5A to win this year’s league championship.
With arguably the district’s top player in Louisiana-Lafayette signee Corey Davis at his disposal, Brown realizes his Mighty Lions might own a talent advantage over the rest of the league.
But Brown’s also a veteran coach who realizes that reaching such an objective takes more than talent, and Lafayette (11-3) begins its journey toward a possible district crown with a home game at 7 p.m. Friday against Comeaux (9-6).
“The other coaches feel like we have the target on our back to be the team to beat,” Brown said. “I feel that every game in district you have to stay focused and really prepare. We’re going to get everybody’s best shot because they think we’re favored.”
In other league play, Acadiana (9-6) hosts Sam Houston (4-7), while Sulphur (7-10) travels to New Iberia (4-7).
“I know Lafayette is in the conversation for district frontrunner,” Comeaux coach Jeremy Whittington said. “I would hope we’re thrown in there, too. We’ve played a pretty tough schedule up to now, and so has Lafayette. I feel we’ve played some really good teams to get us prepared and get battled-tested. We’ve been in some close games.”
Comeaux, which plays four of its first six league games on the road, went 3-1 at the Sunkist Shootout, and in the fifth-place game, the Spartans took a 47-42 overtime win over league foe Carencro.
“The Sunkist was really good for us,” Whittington said. “I wasn’t too happy with the way we played LCA (a 64-55 loss), which is a great team, but we could have played better. Overall, I was happy with it, and the momentum going into district is great.”
Comeaux will be without its top player — Hunter Register — because of a scheduling conflict as he plays in an all-star football game Friday at St. Thomas More.
The Spartans have already experienced playing without Register, who averages 15 points a game, during the Barbe tournament, going 1-2 while Register took part in the Louisiana High School Coaches Association’s East-West All-Star game last month.
Senior Jaleel Moore is one player who will be asked to pick up the scoring slack, along with freshman Devaughn Thomas. Sophomore Michael Smith, who averages 10 points, will move into the starting lineup Friday night.
“I think we’re kind of over it,” Whittington said. “We’re going to have to have kids step up. We’ve never depended on one scorer. We’re also losing rebounding and assists and have to pick that up.”
Brown said he didn’t want to allow Register’s absence to affect the play of his team.
“It changes the outlook of Comeaux’s team,” he said. “But we’re going to go into the game like he’s playing and play as hard as we can whether he plays or not.”
Lafayette is also riding the momentum of recent tournament play with a 3-1 record in the St. Martinville Holiday Classic that included only a 65-61 setback to Helen Cox.
The Lions are coming off an impressive 69-48 win over host St. Martinville going into the first of two straight home district games with Comeaux and next Tuesday with Barbe (9-4).
Davis’ 18-point average is tops for Lafayette with senior guard Deondre Broussard adding 15 to 16 points a game and senior post player Christian Freeman 13 points.
“If we can take care of home and try and steal some on the road, I think we’ll have a good chance to be successful,” Brown said.