As St. Thomas Extra coach Danny Broussard drove the basketball group’s bus from Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles to Lafayette on Saturday night, his telephone was blowing up.
His Cougars had simply defeated College Lab 60-39 within the Division II state championship sport, and well-wishers have been calling and texting Broussard’s telephone continuous.
Though he did not learn any of the texts whereas driving, Broussard accepted a number of congratulatory calls from family and friends.
“I will be returning calls for 3 days,” laughed Broussard, whose group had simply gained its fourth consecutive state title. The Cougars, who hadn’t misplaced since earlier than Christmas, completed with a 32-4 file.
“Once I gained the primary one in 1986, I used to be 25 years previous,” Broussard mentioned. “I assumed this was going to be simple. I used to be going to win about 20 of those. I discovered proper after that it isn’t that simple.
“Look, to win a state championship, it’s important to have luck. Generally you want the luck of the draw. Generally you might have among the finest groups you have ever had, however there are different nice groups within the state. There are a whole lot of elements that go into it.”
Over the weekend, debates raged on the Web as to who’s the perfect general basketball group in Louisiana, which crowns 9 separate state champions.
“This bunch proper right here, I really feel that no matter division we would have been in, I feel we would have gained,” Broussard mentioned. “I have been feeling this for the final two years. Final 12 months, we beat three state champions. We performed so many nice groups. It is only a particular bunch. It is outstanding, the run that we have been on.
“Final 12 months, we went via a three-game stretch the place we beat the No. 1 group in 3A in Wossman, the No. 1 group in 4A in Breaux Bridge, and the No. 1 1A group in North Central. You possibly can’t plan that. You possibly can’t schedule that. It simply occurred in tournaments. For that to occur back-to-back-back, I knew I had a particular group of men taking part in for me.”
Broussard’s Cougars have captured a complete of six state titles.
“We have had some actually good groups,” he mentioned. “It might be enjoyable for this group to play in opposition to our first-ever state championship group, our nationally-ranked group that went 38-2. It might actually be enjoyable. There could be some nice matchups. I have been lucky to have some nice gamers. I am not going to say this group is the perfect I’ve had, however they rank up there.”
STM will lose 10 seniors from this 12 months’s squad, together with guards Carter Domingue and Jaden Shelvin. Within the championship sport, Domingue led the way in which with 17 factors, 9 assists, eight rebounds, 5 steals and a block.
Shelvin added 12 factors, 5 assists, 5 rebounds and a steal. Broussard mentioned LSU soccer signee Jack Bech’s 16 factors have been a profession excessive. Bech additionally collected three steals, three rebounds, three assists and two blocks.
“We have been a guard-oriented group,” Broussard mentioned. “You are taking part in with Bryce Bouilion, who’s a 6-foot-2 submit, and Jack Bech at 6-foot-3. They’re very sturdy and athletic, however we have been all the time so undersized. Our guard play this 12 months was unreal.”
When the buzzer sounded on the finish of the sport on Saturday, one of many first issues Broussard did was embrace Domingue and Shelvin.
“It is arduous for me to think about what it is going to be like for me subsequent 12 months with out them,” he mentioned. “We have been via wars collectively. It’ll be a lot totally different.
“I informed them I cherished them and I thanked them for going to struggle with me each night time. It is only a mutual bond I’ve with them. No matter I’ve requested them to do the final 4 years, they’ve carried out it.”
Certainly one of STM’s most vital wins this season got here a number of weeks in the past within the Cajundome in opposition to 3A champion Madison Prep. Though the Cougars fell behind early, they rallied to defeat a a lot bigger squad, 62-55.
“Look-wise, I do not suppose we’re an All-Airport group the place individuals see us and say, ‘Wow,’ however when the ball is tipped, Jack and Bryce and Carter and Jaden begin pushing guys round,” Broussard mentioned. “The opponents are like, “These guys are good.” And our protection, our physicality prevents groups from doing issues they normally do.”
As soon as Bech joined the basketball group after soccer ended, the Cougars by no means misplaced once more.
“He is unbelievable,” Broussard mentioned. “The camaraderie that he has together with his teammates spurred him to play soccer. Carter went and performed soccer as a Division I basketball prospect, so Jack returned the favor by taking part in basketball after he had already signed with LSU for soccer.”
Together with Barrett Chiasson, Broussard is assisted by coaches Wes and Nick Cortese.
“I have been on the workers 11 years,” mentioned Wes Cortese, who took over as head coach in a district contest at Westgate after Broussard was pressured to take a seat out on account of contact tracing points.
“This was a enjoyable group to teach. They adjusted on the courtroom very effectively. Carter and Jaden are leaders on the courtroom. Bryce Boullion is a particular participant. He would not get a whole lot of accolades, however he simply goes out and will get rebounds. Tobin Thevenot was banged up after soccer and was nonetheless an amazing level guard for us.”
Wes Cortese was a gritty, defensive-minded participant on the 2007 STM group that misplaced within the semifinals. Nick Cortese averaged 12 factors per sport for STM squads that gained 30-plus video games in each his junior and senior campaigns.
“This was a extremely particular group of seniors,” Nick Cortese mentioned. “All 10 of them. I feel they make teaching simple. They’re good, they play arduous they usually have a whole lot of expertise.
“Generally guys with a whole lot of expertise who’re good suppose they know greater than the coaches, and these guys weren’t like that. They have been all the time keen to be coached.”
At one time, Chaisson and the Cortese brothers have been all on the identical STM squad.
“This group of seniors was a whole lot of enjoyable,” Chaisson mentioned. “Look, having gamers like Carter and Jaden makes like simpler. They do all the correct issues. Bryce and Jack deliver a whole lot of vitality. On the subject of being overmatched size-wise, Bryce and Bech thrive on that. We name them the ‘Bash Brothers.’
Whereas STM throttled U-Excessive from the opening tip on Saturday, the Cougars typically discovered methods to come back from behind.
“This group of seniors was so battle-tested,” Chaisson mentioned. “Once they have been sophomores, they have been down by 13 factors to De La Salle in time beyond regulation within the championship sport and nonetheless gained. “