South Lafourche girls’ basketball coach Rainie Terrebonne had a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving season.
Her Lady Tarpons have opened the year with a bang, solidifying themselves again as one of the best teams in the Houma-Thibodaux area.
South Lafourche opened the 2016-17 season with five-straight wins, including an unbeaten week last week at a tournament in New Orleans.
Terrebonne said she’s pleased with how her team is competing. She said the early success is a product of a successful offseason – one which the Lady Tarpons challenged themselves and fought to get better.
“We have started our season strong,” Terrebonne said. “The girls have put in a lot of hard work in the offseason. The way we have started our season shows that. We have been winning games by sticking to the game plan and making adjustments when needed.”
A huge key to South Lafourche’s early season success is its depth – a luxury that Terrebonne said she’s thankful to have.
By now, everyone knows about the Lady Tarpons’ two-headed monster of junior guard Traya Bruce and junior forward Vic Nelson – a one-two punch capable of filling up the entire stat sheet in every, single game.
Terrebonne said those players have ascended into leadership roles in the new season, despite still being underclassmen.
Both Bruce and Nelson have been starters since their freshman seasons.
“Vic and Traya have both stepped up as leaders on our team,” Terrebonne said. “Our girls look up to them for leadership – both at practice and during our games. They push their teammates at practice and their teammates push them at practice, and that will make us a better team.”
That duo is not alone.
A big key to the Lady Tarpons’ success is the team’s depth, which provides a strength in numbers for South Lafourche – both in practice and games.
In addition to Bruce and Nelson, South Lafourche relies heavily on seniors Kacey Rousse, Abigail Gaspard and Alex Lafont for production and leadership.
The team’s underclassman pool is also filled to the brim with talent. Youngsters like Sierra Lerille, Taylor Toups, Ramey Messer, Elizabeth Curole, Jacie LeBoeuf, Kyzha Jackson, Caroline Curole and Abigail Bouzigard all see action.
Even freshman Mak Bynum has earned big minutes, and has parlayed it into success, namely a 12-point outburst last week against Riverside Academy.
That depth, and the ability to mix and match players in any situation is what Terrebonne said is the team’s key to its continued success.
It’s also what’s allowed the team to keep pushing, despite losing three starters to graduation after last season, including center Breigh Cheramie and guards Caroline Guilbeau and Brinkley, who both signed to play college basketball.
“Our bench is a blessing,” Terrebonne said. “Many coaches would want a bench like we have. Each girl understands her role on our team. When we sub from the bench, we don’t lose anything on the court. That is a great thing to have. … We knew going into the summer that we had to replace some great players, but through working hard over the summer, we were able to make the adjustments and we found the right fits to replace what we lost.”
But now, the competition is about to get fierce, and the team will find out soon if it has what it takes to emerge as one of Class 4A’s top teams.
In the coming weeks, South Lafourche will play non-district games against top-flight foes at the Central Lafourche, Walker and Riverside Academy tournaments.
From there, they’ll open district play on Jan. 3, 2017, and will be challenged by the team it shared the district championship with last year, Ellender, as well as up-and-coming challengers like Morgan City, South Terrebonne, Vandebilt and Assumption.
Terrebonne said the team’s goal is to reach the postseason and then go deep into the bracket.
The team has lost in the second-round of the playoffs in the past several years – a feat Terrebonne said her team doesn’t want to replicate again this time around.
“To reach our goals, we have to continue to work hard and play as a team,” she said. “We have to stay focused on what the end goal is to our season. We will take one game at a time and work as hard as we can.”
She said the team’s goal is to win the last game it plays.
“The ultimate accomplishment would be to get that state championship,” she said. “That’s what I strive for every year.”
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