Some coaches do not have the moxie to do what Mark Temple did last year after his team lost by more than 40 points in the regional round of the girls basketball playoffs.
Temple sent an email to some media outlets, telling them to watch out for East Iberville next year. A year later, the Tigers are not only one to watch, they were No. 1 in Class 1A when the LHSAA released its girls basketball playoff pairings on Monday.
“I thought this would be a four-year project, but here we are in three years,” Temple said. “Two years ago, it started with a group of mostly seventh- and eighth- graders. And after they lost in the playoffs last year, they put in the work. We played summer league and went to team camps to get better.”
EIHS was one of three local teams to claim No. 1 seeds on Monday, joining Class 2A Doyle (27-4) and Lee (29-2) of Division II. East Iberville gets a bidistrict-round bye and plays the Gueydan-Delta Charter winner in next week’s regional round.
Before coming to East Iberville, Temple was the head coach at Mamou. Before that, he was an assistant at two other District 6-1A schools, Southern Lab and White Castle. He was an assistant at WCHS in 2015, when the Bulldogs advanced to the 1A semifinals.
Temple said the 69-24 loss to eventual 1A champion Delhi last season served as motivation. It also helped shape a balanced attack led by 5-foot-10 Dedreka Wilson, who averages 16 points and 14 rebounds per game. Taylor Gordon (5-7) adds 12 points per game, while point guard Kadijah Lucas adds nine points, five assists and four steals per game.
“We’ve had seven different players lead us in scoring this year,” Temple said. “That balance is one of the things that helps us.”
The odds seemed to be stacked against Madison Prep. Injuries and a tough schedule bedeviled coach Dwayne Hayes’ eight-player roster much of the season.
However, an eight-game winning streak puts the Chargers (18-13) right where Hayes hoped they would be — as the No. 2 playoff seed in Class 3A. The Chargers were the 3A runner-up to top-seeded Loranger (23-2) last season.
“After we lost to U-High at the start of district, things started turning around,” Hayes said. “We finally got past the nagging knee and ankle injuries, and everyone fell into their roles. You could see the chemistry develop in each game.”
Walker (29-4) grabbed the No. 2 playoff in Class 5A and looks to make its deepest playoff run since finishing as the 5A runner-up in 2015.
Two bidistrict games set for 6 p.m. Thursday match teams from the same local districts. In 5A, No. 27 seed Zachary (16-16) travels to No. 6 Denham Springs (24-5) for a District 4-5A rematch. Brusly (18-15), seeded 22th, travels to No. 13 Glen Oaks (20-14) in Class 3A that is a 6-3A rematch.
“I wasn’t really sure what to expect,” Zachary coach Tami McClure said. “It looked like we might be the No. 28 seed and play East Ascension. But we wound up moving back up to 27.”
The Broncos have a pretty good idea what to expect — they led at halftime before losing 45-31 to Denham Springs last Tuesday. The turnaround is even more immediate for Brusly, a 49-44 winner over Glen Oaks last Friday at GOHS.
“We split the two games we played with them this year, including one in our tournament,” Brusly coach Trent Ellis said. “It is what it is, and the team that plays the best Thursday will win.”