Thibodaux deserved championship win

I had my doubts about the Thibodaux High School boys’ basketball team when I walked onto their campus two weeks ago to cover their first-round game.

The athletes were there, sure.

But I just thought the team had a few red flags that would keep them from beating all of the powerhouses in Class 5A.

They lacked size. The Tigers have no true post threat — so I thought.

And look, let’s be real — the Bayou District was sort of down this year on the boys’ side.

The River schools were OK, but no one hosted a first-round playoff game.

H.L. Bourgeois had a rough year. Terrebonne was in transition and Central Lafourche was depleted.

But I was wrong.

I followed the Thibodaux High School boys’ basketball team on their quest to win the State Championship.

I attended all five of their postseason games, have had conversations with players and coaches in that locker room and have made new friendships with the proud people in Tiger Nation.

Now, two full weeks later and with the Championship Trophy nestled comfortably into the school’s trophy case, I can say definitively — those Tigers are a championship team through and through. Those boys and that community 100 percent deserved to win the State Championship.

Thibodaux is a true team — in every sense of the word.

There is no star.

All five Tigers’ starters average 10 or more points per game.

That’s a luxury not many other teams have.

But more important than that is the team’s willingness to share the ball and play fluidly as one unit.

On any given night, any number of players can be the hero for the Tigers, and that was on full display throughout the playoffs.

In modern basketball and our AAU culture of “exposure” and “accolades”, that’s rare.

But these Tigers truly carried the mindset throughout the season that it didn’t matter who scored as long as the Tigers scored and that was a huge facet in their successes.

Kobi Johnson is a consummate floor general — maybe the best I’ve ever seen at the high school level.

That dude has a motor that doesn’t ever stop. He’s a gamer, too. In the big games, he wants the biggest challenges, the biggest assignments and the opportunity to make the biggest plays.

Johnson is arguably the best pure point guard I’ve ever seen at this level. His leadership is uncanny and he makes the Tigers go.

Thibodaux coach Tony Clark agrees. He called Johnson the best leader he’s ever coached in his career.

And the others around him make noise, too.

The Tigers’ starting five is elite — everyone can and has led the team in scoring in high-stakes games.

To me, Rashod Robinson is the most underrated player in the area. His ability to create and score both inside the paint and behind the 3-point line is special.

The same can be said for Marvin Robertson or J’Mari Carter — both big-time playmakers for the Tigers.

Carter is athletic, long and lanky. He’s 6’3 and can make plays off a bounce. From the corners, he’s lethal and his athleticism makes him a tough guard.

And Robertson, well, what can we say? He’s lethal — arguably the best off-the-dribble player in the area.

Oh, and the lack of size I thought Thibodaux had?

Not an issue.

Rashad Winslow is only 6’1, but he plays like he’s 6’7. He’s a bull in the paint. If teams don’t block him out, he’s grabbing the rebound on the offensive glass and going up with a quick shot. In the mid-range, he’s also a threat.

Off the bench, Tyren Young is a pitbull, too, and guys like Kelly Raymond, Darwin Davis, Davonte Davis and others all played their parts at times, as well.

But talent aside, what impressed me most about this Thibodaux team is the character of the kids off the floor.

These guys love one another. They joke, laugh and have a good time when together.

They’re well-spoken, thoughtful and truly appreciate the community support they’ve received and now also their place in history.

Robinson thanked coach Tony Clark for his belief in the team throughout the past few seasons.

We can’t forget Clark’s role in this, either.

His ability to instill the concepts of team-first and develop the skills of those young men over the course of their careers is incredible.

So to my friends at Thibodaux High — enjoy this one.

It was a job well-done and a much-deserved first-ever State Title.

I was wrong about you guys.

I had my doubts.

But I can admit when I’m wrong and I was wrong about Thibodaux.

That’s the best team in Class 5A — no question.

And they’re a great bunch of kids, too — first-class in every way.

Thibodaux HighCASEY GISCLAIR | THE TIMES



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