BRUSLY — The one thing a high school basketball coach cannot manufacture is experience.
Brusly High coach Kirby Loupe has a team with plenty of it and it showed in a 72-52 nondistrict victory over Central Catholic on Tuesday night.
Many teams dig themselves into a hole when a top scorer gets shut down or has an off night. Not the Class 3A Panthers, who outscored Morgan City-based Central Catholic 21-5 in the first quarter of the game played at Brusly.
Jaylen Forest scored a game-high 26 points, including two 3-pointers for the Brusly, which showed no signs of a letdown after a big victory over rival Port Allen on Friday.
“I always say we don’t have a star player, but what we do have is a group of guys with a lot of varsity experience,” Loupe said. “Several of them believe they are capable of scoring 25 points. But as long as they put the team first and understand that their night may be the next one, we’ll be fine.”
It was the fourth straight win for Brusly since losing to Class 5A Lafayette High in a holiday tournament at North Vermilion. Dylan Dominique (13) and Ja’Sean LeDuff (12) also scored in double figures for the Panthers.
Though the game against a 1A/Division IV select school might seem like a mismatch, Loupe pointed out that Brusly lost to the Eagles in a close game on the road a year ago.
Poor shooting can be enough, by itself, to doom a team’s chance for a win. Central Catholic (8-9) had issues with shooting and turnovers in the first quarter that made a decisive difference.
The Class 1A Eagles missed their first 11 shots from the field. CCMC did not make a field goal until sophomore DJ Lewis converted a layup with 34 seconds left in the opening period. By that time Brusly (16-2) led 21-5. The Eagles also had seven first-quarter turnovers.
Central Catholic did move closer in the second quarter by scoring nine of the first 15 points. But Brusly countered with a 10-2 run that included an old-fashioned three-point play by LeDuff, who had six assists. Davis Stovall added 11 rebounds for the winners. CCMC trailed by as much as 28 points in the third quarter and got no closer than 17 in the final quarter.
“We’re young and games like this can be tough,” Central Catholic coach Ree Case said. “When we don’t shoot well, we also have a tendency to not guard well, and that happened tonight. Brusly is 16-2 for a reason. … They’re good. This is the kind of team we need to see because our (select) division is so tough. We’ll learn from it.”
Smith led the Eagles with 15 points. Forest provided a key storyline in the game. He scored just four points in the win over Port Allen but took advantage of open looks and chances to drive through open lanes to the basket.
“I just played the game and let it come me,” Forest said. “I didn’t try to force anything and tried to get everybody into the game.”