NEW IBERIA — New Iberia coach Todd Russ said the difference between the Yellow Jackets’ last game against Comeaux and Friday’s contest was a matter of confidence.
“We did not play with any confidence over there,” Russ said. “(Friday) we just played with confidence. We had some of the same looks tonight, but you always shoot the ball a little better at home.”
New Iberia hit seven 3-pointers, with Alex Mandeville making three. Mandeville poured in a game-high 19 points as the Yellow Jackets (16-9, 6-1 in District 3-5A lead dominated in a 55-44 win.
“We forced the defense to collapse,” Russ said. “We settled for too many jumpers, but we played loose and confident tonight.”
Russ said in the past two games Mandeville has come on. Mandeville hit his first 3-pointer in the second quarter and followed it with another on the next trip down. Russ said Mandeville’s game was a tribute to team basketball.
“Alex Mandeville got everything that came off (passes after his teammates drove to the basket) tonight,” Russ said. “He has been playing real well as of late. He stretches the defense because he forces the bigger guy to defend him. You have to give credit to the rest of the guys because they are all doing their part. Tonight, Alex was the recipient of a lot of guys going in and kicking out.”
Mandeville said the Yellow Jackets are finding chemistry. He said his past two games have been a lot of fun.
“After I knocked down the first one, I felt like I could make anything,” Mandeville said. “The guys made the extra pass tonight, and I just so happen to be the guy that hit the shots.”
Comeaux never got anything going offensively. The Spartans were led by 10 points from DeVaughn Thomas. Russ said wining the rebounding battle against a team much bigger than his was a major key to the win.
“As a group, we understand our limitations with our size,” Russ said, “but that hasn’t become an Achilles’ heel. It took us some time to get used to our size. Tonight, our bigs were outsized, and we had to rebound as a team. Everyone knows their assignment, and if we can keep them under 10 (offensive rebounds), we have a chance.”
Despite a recent run of seven straight victories, Russ wasn’t quick to put the Yellow Jackets in the driver’s seat for the district. He said the only thing on his mind is New Iberia’s trip to Barbe on Tuesday.
“We aren’t good enough to start thinking too far ahead,” Russ said. “We’re definitely not big enough to start thinking ahead, but if we have a night where we shoot the ball like we did tonight, we can just ride the wave.
“Right now, we are riding the wave.”