DENHAM SPRINGS - The Denham Springs boys basketball team was riding high after winning three of four tournament games last weekend, but the Yellow Jackets came crashing back to earth Friday night against Catholic High.
A week of lackluster practices segued into a first half in which Denham Springs seemingly could do nothing right, and it went on to lose to the Bears 76-47 in non-district action.
The Yellow Jackets won three games to advance to the championship game of Airline High’s ‘Doc’ Edwards Invitational tournament last Saturday. The good feelings from that showing were nowhere to be found on Friday.
“I wish I could tell you I didn’t see this coming, but I did,” Denham Springs coach Kevin Caballero said. “We’ve had two terrible days of practice since we got back from Bossier.”
Still, Caballero admitted he was surprised after his team fell behind 13-0 in the first four minutes before trailing 43-16 at halftime.
“I watched (Catholic) on film, and they’ve got an excellent basketball team, probably 10 deep,” he said. “Did I expect it to be that bad, giving up 43 points on your home floor? No.”
Denham Springs (13-11) bounced back to a degree in the third quarter, and outscored Catholic 15-7 to pull within 50-31 with just under three minutes left. Micah Banks, who led the Jackets with 13 points, hit a 3-pointer during the run, and Kaleb Drummer added four of his 10 points.
Catholic (16-4) surged back out to a 59-35 lead entering the fourth quarter, and Denham Springs was unable to get its deficit under 20 points again.
“We knew coming in that (Banks) and (Xavier Miles) were going to be a load,” Catholic coach Mark Cascio said. “We knew that if we made mistakes, if we didn’t come ready to play that they were good, and they were going to beat us.
“Their talent and their level of coaching got us really focused to play a good game because we knew we absolutely had to.”
The Jackets missed their first eight shots of the game while Catholic made 5 of 10, including Kentrell Garnett’s 3-pointer to give the Bears a 13-0 lead with 3:17 left in the first quarter. Garnett, one of six Bears who combined to make seven 3-pointers, went on to score 23 points.
In the second quarter, Denham Springs continued to struggle finding ways to score. Chandler Row’s basket put Catholic on top 37-12 with 2:35 to go in the half. The Bears got a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by London Scott to make it 43-16.
“I told the guys, you can’t just collect a paycheck,” Caballero said. “You’ve got to work to earn the paycheck. I think we forgot who we were for a couple of days, and you saw it.”
The game featured significant playing time for the Jackets duo of Banks and D.J. Williams, two players who had battled recent injuries. Williams, who scored seven points, sparked Denham Springs early in the third quarter, converting a three-point play.
According to Caballero, the pair was fully recovered and offered no physical excuses for the game’s result.
“We’ve rehabbed them, and I thought they were at 100 percent physically,” Caballero said. “Are we at 100 percent with their skill set? Physically we’re at 100 percent, but mentally, no. Not even near.”
Banks, whose first playing time during Walker’s Christmas Classic, said there is still time for Denham Springs to achieve its goals, but there is no looking back.
“We played good in the tournament but unfortunately we came up short,” Banks said. “Now we’ve got to move on to the next game (because) nobody’s going to remember that tournament. We didn’t even win the championship. We’ve got the rest of the season to recover, and hopefully win a championship.”