Lake Charles is a special place for Brian Gibson.
“Like a second home,” the Landry-Walker basketball coach called it earlier in the week.
It’s where he and his family moved in August 2005 right after Hurricane Katrina and lived for four months before returning to New Orleans in December of that year.
The city has become a second home for his Landry-Walker basketball team as well.
His Charging Buccaneers won their second consecutive Class 4A state championship on Saturday night, topping top-seeded Salmen 37-35 in a game that they’ll be talking about in Algiers for years to come.
Keytaon Thompson’s put-back basket of a Lamar Peters miss at the buzzer was the game-winner to give the Charging Bucs another title.
They really weren’t supposed to repeat, most thought.
Not with the departure of dynamic point guard Tyree Griffin, now suiting up for Oklahoma State.
“That’s been these kids’ calling card all year,” Gibson said. “Everyone said Tyree was such a great player and we couldn’t repeat the same feat. But they really focused on showing this city and this state that is was more than a one-man show. That’s been their calling card.”
They answered in a big way, overcoming a sluggish start to win title No. 2, and will be taking the championship trophy back home.
Heck, some thought they weren’t supposed to win that first one.
There was no way two merged schools (Landry and O. Perry Walker) could come together and form a cohesive unit in less than nine months, right?
They won last year and made it look easy.
This one wasn’t easy at all.
They struggled in the first half, shooting just 22.7 percent in the first 16 minutes.
But this one was tough way before Saturday’s game.
It started in football season, when Romalus Walker, set to replace Griffin as the starting point guard, tore his ACL. Walker, who played at Carver last year, averaged 26.4 points per game as a junior, including one game where he exploded for 75 (yes, that’s a 7 and a 5) points against Sci Academy.
The biggest blow came in late January, though.
That’s when Tokoyo Palmer, a member of Landry-Walker’s junior varsity team, was gunned down in a senseless murder while walking to the bus stop. He was only 17.
But one thing you probably should know about these Charging Buccaneers is that they don’t let a little bit of adversity get in their way.
“They felt like if they could come together, two things would happen,” Gibson said. “They would play really hard in remembrance of our teammate who was unfortunately killed. And if they got enough games together as a team, they would be a tough out. I think they have represented our fallen teammate very well.”
“It’s been an interesting year, but well worth the travel,” Gibson said.
It’s unclear if the Top 28 will return to Lake Charles next season. That will be voted on this summer.
With just two seniors on its roster, Landry-Walker could be returning next year to wherever it’s played.
Something tells me Gibson would like it to be Lake Charles.