They grew up on the same street in north Baton Rouge and attended the same local high school.
Decades later, Live Oak coach Gary Duhe and Denham Springs coach Kevin Caballero are something of neighbors again in District 4-5A boys basketball.
One of the area’s most accomplished basketball coaches, Duhe landed at Live Oak after the LHSAA suspended his position as the director of the Louisiana High School Coaches Association. After spending the first 25 years of his coaching career in the Monroe area, Caballero left his post as the Sterlington High coach when the Denham job became available and he saw a chance to return home.
Duhe graduated from Redemptorist in 1971 and Caballero in 1977.
Before beginning a career in head coaching that would include three state championships and two runner-up finishes, Duhe served as an assistant at Redemptorist when Caballero was a player during the school’s basketball heyday.
“I’m not real excited about going to play against Gary,” Caballero said with a smile, “but it is fun to see him and he’s always been there to help.”
Duhe and Caballero have two meetings scheduled during 4-5A play and could also meet in the upcoming parish tournament.
“I consider him a dear friend, and also someone that I hope I’ve mentored the right way,” Duhe said of Caballero
Duhe’s decorated career has seen stops at Central, Trafton Academy (now The Dunham School), Plaquemine and, most recently, St. Amant. He also served two years as a Dale Brown assistant at LSU in the mid-1980s.
But it all began at Redemptorist, where Duhe got his first coaching job as the head coach of the eighth grade team as a second-year college student.
In those days, Redemptorist basketball was a factory of sorts that produced championship-winning teams and a long line of future coaches.
One of those future coaches was the youngster who grew up down the street from Duhe and later played basketball for the young Redemptorist assistant. Duhe remembers lining up with Caballero in the Redemptorist gym to see who would be the first to drain a pre-practice heave from midcourt.
“Most of the time,” Duhe said, “he had to buy my lunch.”
Redemptorist won a state championship in Caballero’s senior season.
Two years later, Duhe was promoted to head coach and, in the early ’80s, would lead the Wolves to two more state titles.
Both coaches continue to value the very principles that were instilled in them as part of that great run.
“We’re honoring the legacy of Redemptorist with any success we may have,” Duhe said of their alma mater, which closed after the 2014-15 school year.
Caballero had two stints as the head coach at West Ouachita. During his most recent stop in coaching, he compiled a 168-89 record at 2A Sterlington and led the Panthers to five 20-win seasons. He served as an assistant at Louisiana Tech under former Redemptorist teammate Keith Richard from 2000-05.
Caballero said he sees a lot of Duhe in the teams he coaches.
“His guys are tough, and coach Duhe is big fundamentally,” Caballero said. “I think if you can get the guys to buy in, you’ll be successful. I always believed that if you work hard, good things will come to you at some point.”
U-High wins Hornsby tourney
The University High boys won the annual Grady Hornsby basketball tournament at Denham Springs by crushing Mandeville 66-29 in the championship game. The Cubs also beat Terrebonne and Lutcher during the three-day event.
LSU signee Wayde Sims led U-High, the back-to-back defending 3A state champ, with 20 points in the championship game.
Host Denham Springs knocked off Dutchtown 65-60 in its first game of the tournament before losing to Mandeville and Lutcher in its final two.
The Yellow Jackets expect senior Torez Kinchen to return in the coming weeks. One of the top returning players from last year’s team, Kinchen suffered a separated shoulder while playing quarterback for Denham during football season.
The annual Livingston Parish basketball tournament will be held Tuesday, Dec. 8, through Saturday, Dec. 12 at Live Oak High. Tip-off times for the championship games are 6 p.m. for the girls and 7:30 p.m. for the boys’ game on Dec 12.
A coaches’ meeting to seed teams from the nine participating schools was scheduled for earlier this week.