Near the end of Tuesday’s Class 4A regional playoff victory over Carencro the reality started to set in for St. Thomas More senior guards Devanté Benjamin and Trevor Begue.
They were both moved to tears at the thought of playing in their final home game and for their ultra-successful coach Danny Broussard.
“This team’s great, it’s one to remember,” Benjamin said. “We were trying to make the best of it and make our school community proud of us.”
Benjamin certainly did his best to ensure finishing his home career on a high note, while making certain the Cougars would be around for the long haul in the Class 4A state playoffs and advance to the Top 28 Tournament.
Benjamin continued his torrid stretch over the past three weeks with a team-high 18 points in No. 1 STM’s 62-42 triumph over Carencro, setting up a return trip to No. 9 Plaquemine for a quarterfinal game at 7 p.m. Friday.
“He’s a senior, and I’m sure he realizes he wants this bad,” Broussard said. “We got knocked out early in the playoffs (last year), and he was a freshman when he saw us at the Top 28. He just wants to bring this team there again. All of our seniors want that.”
Last year’s 52-40 regional loss at Plaquemine has figured into the context of Benjamin’s recent run, bridging the conclusion of the regular season with his final postseason run.
When STM’s needed him most, Benjamin’s delivered with an eye toward trying to lead the Cougars to their 11th Top 28 Tournament next week in Lake Charles.
“We came up short last year, so this year I felt like I had to pull it through so we can go all the way,” Benjamin said. “I felt like I needed to take charge to make everyone feel like we could do it without anyone stopping us.”
Benjamin was in the midst of enjoying a solid final season for a well-balanced STM offense, hovering around 15 points a game. He continued to show off his improved perimeter game — one he spent last summer taking 200 shots a day — to become a consistent 3-point threat.
That, combined with a lethal first step and his aggressiveness to the basket, has completed Benjamin as a basketball player and left opposing defenses searching for answers to stop him.
“What I really like about him is that he’s played within the team concept and gotten all of this done,” Broussard said. “That’s what makes us a tough team to guard because he shares the ball. He’s one of those guys that’s going to do whatever it takes for us to win.”
Over the past six games Benjamin’s elevated his game to another level, especially with STM trying to secure the District 4-4A championship and No. 1 seed in the state playoffs.
Benjamin scored 16 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter and in overtime of STM’s 75-72 regular-season victory over Carencro. Three games later with the Cougars facing a must-win situation against Northside, Benjamin scored 18 of his team-high 25 points in a 79-64 victory.
That set up a winner-take-all scenario one night later and Benjamin answered with a career-high five 3-pointers and scored 25 points again in a 57-53 victory.
“I felt I had to do better as a player, and as a captain to lead us to where we want to be,” said Benjamin, who has averaged 19.2 points over the last month. “It’s something I wanted to do for coach Danny and everybody else. That’s to step up to the plate and show what I could do.”