Ask a Baton Rouge high school basketball fan for a list of top Class 5A boys basketball teams, and the names like Scotlandville, East Ascension, Zachary and St. Amant will more than likely be mentioned.
Dutchtown isn’t typically in the conversation. But the Griffins (16-4, 1-0 in District 5-5A) are doing everything they can to change that.
“I’m so happy for this group,” Dutchtown coach Patrick Hill said. “They’ve put in a lot of hard work, and now they’re reaping the fruit from that.
“Now that’s not to say that our other teams didn’t work hard, because they did. This group has done of good job of handling every situation thrown at them. They’ve found a way to keep it together when things don’t go well, and sometimes that’s all you need to give yourself a chance to win.”
Dutchtown made a huge statement with an 89-80 double-overtime win over St. Amant in its 5-5A opener Friday. The Griffins host fifth-ranked East Ascension (19-2, 1-0) in a key game that helps highlight Tuesday’s action in the Baton Rouge area.
“That was our first overtime game of the year,” Hill said. “We had chances to win it in regulation but missed some free throws. St. Amant had chances to win it, too. It could have gone either way. Winning a game like that was big for us.
“In this district it doesn’t get any easier. East Ascension is quick and they have size with the (Ja’Cardo) Hawkins kid. They have all the intangibles, like any team that plays for coach (Kenny) Almond. They can defend, rebound and score.”
Dutchtown relies on a rotation of eight players, none of whom stand taller than 6-foot-3.
Hill isn’t big on statistics, but said six of the eight players have scored in double figures during the year.
“Almost every game, somebody different has led us,” Hill said. “We never really know who it will be.”
The Griffins’ tallest player is 6-3 senior Jhory Miller. Brothers Tevin (5-10 junior) and Christion (6-2 sophomore) Thompson are also a key part of the DHS rotation. Two more juniors, 5-9 Nick Whalen and 5-11 Leonard Scott, are the other starters.
Senior Austin Sampson (5-10) is one of the Griffins’ top reserves, along with juniors Patrick Thompson (6-2) and Keenan Barrett (5-10).
Hill said the Griffins took their share of lumps a year ago when a then sophomore-laden lineup took on major roles. The decision to play that many youngsters a year ago has paid some big dividends.
The big payoff would be a Class 5A playoff berth. Tuesday’s game against East Ascension will give the Griffins a chance to gauge their progress toward that goal.
When asked about other key games this year, Hill noted last Tuesday’s nondistrict loss to 3A power Glen Oaks.
“We didn’t win the war,” Hill said. “But we won some important battles that will make us better. And that’s important — we’ve got to continue to improve. All the top teams get better as the season goes on.”