They may not have been considered teams to watch for in their respective district races at the beginning of the season, but Breaux Bridge and Opelousas — both under first-year head coaches — have worked hard to change that perception and start league play in a different light.
Not only was he elevated from his assistant’s post a year ago, but Breaux Bridge’s Chad Pourciau also had to deal with the transfer of junior All-American Galen Alexander to Lafayette Christian Academy after the summer.
The result has been a 14-7 record that Breaux Bridge takes into Tuesday’s District 5-4A home opener against St. Martinville (15-8) at 7:15 p.m.
“We have athletes, and when you’re real athletic, you’ve got a shot,” Pourciau said. “I told the guys we don’t have to be great basketball players. But as long and athletic as we are, and if we’re willing to play defense, rebound and do the dirty work, we’ll be in games. If you make a shot here or there, you’re going to win some games.”
Brad Boyd has enjoyed a similar impact at Opelousas, resulting in a 12-6 mark with the Tigers hosting Carencro (15-5) on Tuesday at 7:15 p.m. in the District 4-4A opener for both teams.
“They know the goal, and that’s to win,” said Boyd, a former Louisiana-Lafayette guard. “They want to win bad. They hate to lose, just like me.”
ST. MARTINVILLE-BREAUX BRIDGE: It didn’t take Breaux Bridge very long to adapt to Pourciau, a former middle school coach at Breaux Bridge, with the Tigers bolting to a 8-2 record.
“I had the luxury that these juniors and seniors were at the middle school where I taught them before,” Pourciau said. “They already knew me and kind of believed in me.”
Breaux Bridge registered early wins over Carencro, Tioga, Washington-Marion and Barbe in the first month of the season before suffering a 48-47 setback against Class 5A power Natchitoches-Central.
The Tigers responded to a three-game losing skid with a three-game win streak that included a 63-61 road win over Northside.
Six-foot-four senior forward Ignatius Patt is the team’s top scorer at 19.6 points with senior Cordarian Duhon (8.9) and junior Tyrick Davis (8.8) nearing double figures.
“I’m excited, and I think the kids are excited about starting district,” said Pourciau, whose is facing a St. Martinville team that’s won five straight. “There will be two hot teams. It should be a good one.”
CARENCRO-OPELOUSAS: There was no better example of Boyd’s influence on this year’s Opelousas team than in last week’s 69-62 home win over Alexandria.
The Tigers, who are 6-0 at home this season, trailed by 17 at halftime, and trimmed the deficit to eight after three quarters before completing the comeback.
Opelousas outscored Alexandria 52-28 in the second half to win for the third straight time and sixth in the past seven games.
“Regardless if we’ve won or lost, we’ve had other coaches and players commend us for how hard we played and never giving up,” Boyd said. “I’ve told them we can beat anyone at home, and we need to try and steal one or two during the district stretch.”
Boyd said Opelousas is averaging 66 points, relying on an up-tempo style of play that’s predicated on the shooting of junior guard Marvin Thompson (17.1 points) and senior guard Terrell Lewis (16.2).
Sophomore point guard Tony Zachory, who scored 18 in the team’s comeback win over Alexandria, averages nine points.
“Our district’s pretty loaded,” said Boyd, noting St. Thomas More, Northside and Beau Chene. “It’s going to be exciting.”