DUTCHTOWN — Just before stepping through the doors onto the gym floor at Dutchtown to join his victorious team, McKinley basketball coach Harold Boudreaux wondered out loud.
Boudreaux, who was removed as McKinley’s coach three weeks because of an undisclosed incident, returned last Friday after an injunction was granted and guided the Panthers past St. Amant.
McKinley triumphed for the second straight game Tuesday with Boudreaux back on the bench, taking a wire-to-wire 50-39 District 5-5A victory over Dutchtown.
The future of Boudreaux’s coaching fate with the first-place Panthers will be determined Thursday when the former LSU player has a hearing in the courtroom of Judge Timothy Kelly of the 19th Judicial District.
“I hope this isn’t my last game,” Boudreaux said.
McKinley (21-7, 7-0) extended its win streak to 10 games and maintained its league lead over East Ascension with a torrid start.
It more than made up for an uneven second half in which Dutchtown (9-18, 0-7) showed some tenacity with its best basketball of the game.
Thanks to 5-of-6 shooting from the floor, McKinley scored the game’s first 14 points with guard Russell Daniels and Tyrece Radford combining for 10 of those points.
Dutchtown, which was 1-of-4 to start and turned the ball over five times, didn’t score until Tim Hasten’s free throw with 2:52 showing. Guard Neill Caldwell, who led the Griffins with 12 points, had his team’s first field goal with under two minutes left on a layup that beat McKinley’s full-court pressure.
Daniels expanded McKinley’s lead to 25-7 at the six-minute mark with a pair of 3-pointers, accounting for 13 of his team-high 18 points in the first half.
McKinley shot 57 percent in building a 34-10 halftime lead with another 3-pointer from Micah Hill sparking a 9-0 run to end the half.
“I’ve got to give credit to our kids for coming out and playing hard at the beginning,” Boudreaux said.
Dutchtown made 5-of-6 shots over the last four minutes of the third quarter and cut McKinley’s lead to 41-28 after three quarters.
Nic Caldwell’s 3-pointer from the corner brought Dutchtown to within 47-39 — the closest the Griffins had been since the first five minutes — before Radford and Daniels combined to put it away with three throws.
“I think our kids are excited about being in first place,” Boudreaux said. “They’re playing for something. We still have to keep the fire going under them. It’s a good district, and we have to continue to play.”