It wasn’t the type of season Comeaux basketball coach Jeremy Whittington had envisioned. It wasn’t particularly conducive to his existing head of hair or booming voice.
“It’s been brutal,” Whittington said. “I’ve lost a lot of hair, and my voice is still gone. It’s been a long year.”
What began as a promising start and early District 3-5A lead evolved into a matter of survival for Comeaux, which overcame a stretch of inconsistent play to wind up second behind New Iberia.
After being eliminated from contention for the district title, Comeaux refocused its efforts on the remainder of the regular season where the Spartans reeled off five straight wins by an average margin of 23 points.
The reward for Comeaux (22-9) is a No. 7 seed and home game against No. 26 Helen Cox (18-11) at 7 p.m. Friday
“We told the kids during our rough patch that the season wasn’t over,” Whittington said. “Whether we had the opportunity for a district championship or not, we were still playing for home court the first couple of (playoff) games.”
Two other teams — Westgate and Episcopal School of Acadiana — are also riding late-season surges into postseason play.
Westgate (13-14) has parlayed a four-game win streak into a No. 24 seed and trip to No. 9 Plaquemine (22-6) in a Class 4A first-round game at 7 p.m.
“It kind of took us longer as coaches (to get across) what we wanted for our younger kids to (do to) progress to the level they needed to play,” Westgate coach Oliver Winston said.
A five-game win streak helped catapult ESA (17-11) to a District 6-B runner-up finish and home playoff game Friday at 6:30 against No. 17 Doyline (16-15).
“None of these kids have experienced having a home playoff game,” ESA coach Mike Bourgeois said. “I told them there’s nothing to be nervous about. If we play the best we’re capable of playing we’re going to win.”
COX-COMEAUX: Comeaux opened with an 8-0 record before taking a 12-6 mark into the start of district play where they defeated New Iberia 41-25.
Comeaux completed the first round of play 4-2 that included road losses to Acadiana and Barbe. That trend continued when they visited New Iberia with the Yellow Jackets winning 58-44 to eliminate the Spartans from the district race.
“I talked to them about being positive and holding each other more accountable,” Whittington said.
“Once they got that confidence back they’re playing and having so much more fun out there and that’s the difference.”
WESTGATE-PLAQUEMINE: Westgate features a roster with five freshmen, three of which are starters, to go along with five sophomores and two juniors.
It wasn’t a favorable match for a team with nondistrict games against Acadiana, University High, Lafayette Christian, Karr, St. Thomas More and New Iberia (three times).
“Our schedule was brutal,” Winston said. “They understood we weren’t going to see any teams we hadn’t already seen. The second half of the season they matured.”
Westgate was 2-2 in District 5-4A when they became the only team to pin a loss on district champion Breaux Bridge (78-70) and followed that with a 73-70 victory over runner-up St. Martinville.
Point guard Anacheck Phomthirath is Westgate’s lone junior starter on a team that relies on 11-12 players to operate its up-tempo style of play.
DOYLINE-ESA: ESA stopped a three-game district losing streak in time to regain its momentum and lock down a first-round home playoff game.
The Falcons, who are led by Mason Shuffler (16.8) and Cole McKay (12.7), avenged two of those losses against Hathaway (58-35) and district champion Midland (51-47).
They closed with a nondistrict win over Northside Christian (62-41) for their fourth win in their last five games.
“It’s been part of the growth of this team,” Bourgeois said. “We feel things are coming together at the right time and we hope to keep it going.”