When Teurlings Catholic hosts St. Thomas More on Tuesday night in a heated District 5-4A rivalry game, the Rebels will be battling more than the Cougars on the court.
They’ll be battling history.
Teurlings coach Jake Dueitt said the Rebels have only beaten the Cougars once or twice in years since the school has opened but thinks his veteran lineup is more than ready to compete.
“It is a rivalry in a way, but when I think of a rivalry, I think of teams winning back and forth,” Dueitt said. “It’s a one-sided rivalry in terms of that. But we’re going to come out hard and compete. I can assure you that.”
Stopping the perennial powerhouse Cougars (15-6, 3-0) will be difficult, though, especially with coach Danny Broussard’s team off to another hot start in district play.
Coming off a blowout, home win against Breaux Bridge, Broussard said he expects a stiff challenge on the Rebels’ (16-8, 3-1) home court.
“It’s definitely going to be a different environment,” Broussard said. “I said going into the season I thought Teurlings was going to be the team to beat. This is what high school basketball is all about.”
“(Dueitt) has done a terrific job building that program. Those guys have been playing since their freshman year. They’ve been playing together for a long time, so we know going in it’s going to be a tough challenge for us.”
Chief amongst those challenges will be slowing down two-sport star 6-foot-7 junior center Cole Kelley, who poses an inside-outside threat to opposing defenses. Kelley is the only Rebels starter not in his senior season.
Broussard said every time he watches game film on Kelley, he has to come up with a new plan to stop him.
“I think I’ve seen in the paper that he’s scored over 30 points this season seven or eight times,” Broussard said. “To think we can stop him, it’s just not realistic. We just hope to contain him a little bit and make him work for what he gets.”
Kelley is more comfortable playing in the post this season, Broussard said, rather than relying on his 3-point stroke, which has expanded his offensive game.
While the Cougars are focused on stopping Kelley, the Rebels are expecting to see a balanced scoring lineup with any one of St. Thomas More’s starters able to shoulder the scoring load.
“In the past, they’ve had a player that you really had to key on, but this year there is a variety of players,” Duiett said. “They’re all good players, so we’re going to go out and defend them all and if we can do that, we won’t have to worry about any one player stepping up.
Dueitt said he expects emotions to be running high throughout the game, with the crowd playing a big role in the outcome.
With a veteran-laden team comfortable in high-pressure situations, Dueitt said his team is ready for the challenge, and he has barely mentioned the hype surrounding the game in practice.
“They’ve played under the lights in football. They’ve all played for three years now, so I don’t think the surroundings will get to them. It’s a pretty laid back group,” Dueitt said.
“Our kids aren’t stupid though. They don’t live under a rock. They know what is coming in tomorrow, and I think this group is ready for the challenge.”