Tigers basketball get 20 seed in 3A playoff bracket

DERON TALLEY, EDITOR @dvillechief
Jamal Jones breaks for a one-handed dunk in a win against Brusly earlier in the season.

The DHS Tigers basketball team may not have won the district title outright, but it did without a doubt secure a birth in the 3A state playoffs. With a 14-12 record and only two losses in district play, the no. 20 Tigers are rolling full steam and will take on number 8 ranked Rayne High in Rayne.

“I’m definitely comfortable with where we are,” head coach Barry Whittington said on the playoff ranking. “We have a chance of sneaking up on some people, they’ll look at our record and just see 14-12.”

Whittington said the team lost some games it shouldn’t have in the first half of the season and said that he’s “pretty excited for where we are.”

The Tigers made the playoff last year went on to host the quarterfinals game where it lost. For the past few seasons, the team has always been on the “cusp” of breaking through but hasn’t been able to get over the hump.

“We take care of the first one, then we have to take care of the second one,” Whittington said about the team advancing through the playoffs. “I look at the whole bracket where we at and feel like we may have a chance. But me feeling one thing and us performing is a different story. So, right now my sole focus is on beating Rayne and making sure we come out of there with a win.”

The Tigers have had a number of scoring leaders throughout the season. Players like Braxton Bernard, Jeremy Jones, Jamal Jones, and Jaquel Gant are all known to fill up the stat sheets for the Tigers. To win a state title, DHS will need a full effort from each member of the team.

“We have to go focused,” Gant said about the game against Rayne. “We can’t look at the top seed and say they are going to beat us. We have to go in and play hard and play our game plan and let the game come to us.”

Gant said he’s happy the made it and even admitted the team started off kind of bad in the beginning of the season and he was a little worried it wouldn’t turn it around. But now, the team is on track and  he said they are all together and know what it takes to pull it off.

To beat a team like Rayne, Gant said the just need to not turn the ball over, make free throws and make big plays at the end of the game.

Whittington questions if the team fully understands what it takes for the team to be successful on its run to the championship.

“I think the community thinks this group of guys is going to be there,” Whittington said. “I don’t know if our guys fully believe that and understand what it takes to get there. It’s one thing to say yea we are going to state, we are going to win the state championship. It’s another thing to be here everyday and to give everything you have and not make excuses for why you are going to fail. It’s two different mindsets.”

Whittington said on paper the Tigers can be put against anybody in the state, “again paper hasn’t won a game yet.”

As far as the team’s progression through the season, Whittington said he’s seen movement in the positive direction and in the negative.

“With 16,17 year old guys and not having a clear cut leader is something that we’ve been struggling to find all year,” Whittington said. “But we’re 10 times more mature than when the season first started. We had a couple of incidents and things like that happened, but it’ll happen with high school basketball players.”