Moments after walking into the Barbe High gym in Lake Charles on Wednesday for practice, Destrehan coach Angi Butler told her team “We’re baaaaaaaaaack.”
Destrehan is back in Lake Charles for the second straight year; this time looking for a bit of redemption after falling to Mount Carmel in the 2014 Class 5A state championship game.
“We really want the win,” Butler said. “The girls don’t want to go home empty-handed this time. We went home with that runner-up trophy last year, and that’s just not going to work this year.”
Destrehan (29-2), the No. 4 seed, will bring a 14-game winning streak into Thursday’s game against top-seed Ponchatoula at Burton Coliseum.
Tip-off is set for 4:30 p.m.
The winner advances to Saturday’s 8 p.m. state championship game to play the winner between No. 11 New Iberia and No. 2 Walker.
Destrehan, despite being a lower seed, should have plenty of confidence against No. 1 Ponchatoula (30-3).
Destrehan handed Ponchatoula one of its three losses, winning 73-57 in December.
And that was on a night that Butler said her team didn’t play one of its better games.
“I thought we had a really bad game,” Butler said. “We weren’t shooting well and weren’t playing our kind of ball. If we have a good game, we won’t have as much stress on our plate.”
Ponchatoula’s other two losses came against Covington and University High.
Destrehan’s two losses came against 4A semifinalists Cabrini and Salmen. The Wildcats avenged the loss to Cabrini.
Both teams went through their respective districts unscathed.
Butler said her team has been loose and relaxed leading up to Thursday’s semifinal.
“They are looking to take care of business,” Butler said. “We aren’t as in awe as we were last year. They don’t have that look of being a little person in a big place this time. They are very comfortable here. Hopefully that experience and knowledge from last year helps this time around.”
Destrehan is the only team in the Class 5A field that returns from last season when Mount Carmel won the title.
Not bad for a team that starts four sophomores and a senior.
Cara Ursin leads the way for the Wildcats.
She is coming off a monster game (36 points and 21 rebounds) in the quarterfinals when the Wildcats beat Mount Carmel avenging last year’s title-game loss. For the season, Ursin is averaging 24.8 points, nine rebounds, seven steals, five assists and four blocks.
“She’s talented, that’s for sure,” Butler said.
Ursin is joined in the starting lineup by senior Jasmine Morris and three more sophomores (Jerlicia Morris, Kiki Jenner and Brandi Mason).
Ponchatoula has won all three playoff games by double digits.
“We know we have to work hard,” Butler said. “We know that Thursday, and Saturday if we get that far, we have to stay focused. We are working hard, and the chemistry is good.”