H.L. Bourgeois boys’ basketball coach Andrew Caillouet isn’t buying the power rankings.
He believes his Braves are better than the No. 17 in Class 5A hoops.
With a sparkling 18-5 record, the Braves are rolling so far this season – currently sitting in a first place in the Bayou District standings.
But because H.L. Bourgeois faced a couple opponents with subpar records, they currently haven’t earned love from the LHSAA’s computers, who would send the team on the road in the opening round of the playoffs if the regular season ended today.
“I think if you ask anybody in south Louisiana, you’ll get a pretty clear consensus – we’re not the (17th) best team in the state,” Caillouet said. “I know we’re a whole lot higher than that. But it is what it is. Now, it’s our job to just keep working hard.”
H.L. Bourgeois has staked its claim as one of the area’s best in part because of its explosive offense.
The Braves average 66.6 points per game. Of that total, H.L. Bourgeois has scored 70 or more points in 11 of their 23 games.
Caillouet said the reason for that success is because of depth and balance.
The Braves have a roster full of players capable of both shooting from long distance and slashing to the basket to get easy buckets.
Guard Isaac Allridge and Marlin Bonvillain lead the charge for the H.L. Bourgeois’ attack.
Bonvillain scored 20 points in the Braves’ road win against South Lafourche last Tuesday, while Allridge hit the game-winning layup with three seconds to play.
But other players like Terin Morris and Davonte Dickerson are capable of filling up the stat sheet on a given night.
“We have a lot of depth this year,” Caillouet said. “And pretty much everybody’s the same for us. We’re all 5-foot-10 to 6-foot-2. Everybody can play the same position and pretty much do the same things. We’re all pretty much the same.”
“We have a lot of guys who we count on to supply our offense,” Allridge added. “That’s a big luxury to have at this level because you never know who’s going to be hot on a given night.”
But while the Braves pile up points by the dozen, the team’s players say it is actually defense that is the spark that ignites their success.
Bonvillain said when H.L. Bourgeois defends, it makes the team’s offense flow without a hitch.
“When we get stops, we’re able to get out and run in transition, which is what we do best,” Bonvillain said. “It’s definitely our defense that makes us go.”
Allridge agreed and pointed to last Tuesday’s win against the Tarpons as an example. In that game, South Lafourche rolled to an early lead, which was maintained throughout the first half.
But toward the end of the second quarter and into the second half, the Braves were able to limit the Tarpons’ opportunities at open looks.
That allowed the Braves to eat into South Lafourche’s lead, take a lead of their own and secure victory in the final seconds of the game.
“We were able to keep our composure and come out of here with a big win,” Allridge said. “When we stay solid on defense, it leads to a lot of openings for us. We know the way we play, we’re going to score. So when we can control how much the opponent scores, that’s when we’re best.”
Those words are sweet music to the ears of Caillouet.
The coach said hearing his players speak that way shows him that his teachings have sunk in. Caillouet said the Braves work on defending “constantly” throughout practice.
“Every single day we do shell drills and every single day we do check-out drills,” Caillouet said. “Other than our warm-up drill every day in practice, about our first 30-45 minutes of practice every, single day is defensive-oriented. It’s definitely our focus. We spend a lot more time on it because we know we need that going forward. We can score naturally. That’s our strength. We work hard on our defense.”
With the powerful offense and timely defense in hand, the Braves will now turn their attention to the back-half of the district schedule and beyond.
H.L. Bourgeois did a lot of its heavy lifting in the opening round of district play, traveling to play New Iberia, Westgate and South Lafourche – teams that are all atop the standings.
Those teams will travel to the Reservation in the second round of play.
“We think the first half of district was our harder half in terms of the trips we’ve had to make,” Caillouet said. “That’s not to say the home games we have will be a cakewalk or that our road trips we have left will be easy. Anyone can beat anyone in this district. But looking from afar at the big picture, we like where we stand.”
Once district play will end, the Braves will have a chance to hit the playoffs and make amends for last season’s opening round exit – a loss that is not forgotten by anyone in the H.L. Bourgeois’ locker room.
“That’s motivation,” Allridge said. “We still remember that. We don’t walk off the floor feeling that way again. That’s not a feeling that we want to experience again – not this year.”
“But when we play as well as we think we can play, we think we can play with anybody,” Bonvillain added. “We know that we can.”
The H.L. Bourgeois defense swarms an E.D. White shot attempt during a summer league game this past summer. The Braves are currently in first place in the Bayou District thanks to explosive offense sparked by timely defense.