Comeaux High’s head boys basketball coach Rob Melanson has a lot of goals he would love to accomplish with the Spartans this year and none are bigger than winning the Class 5A state championship.
But before he sets his sights on accomplishing that feat, Melanson has a couple of goals he’d like to achieve first one of which is winning the District 3-5A championship and the other is advancing past the quarterfinals, where the Spartans have been eliminated in each of the past two seasons.
Despite losing a couple of talented seniors to graduation from last year’s team, the Spartans may just be better this year than they’ve been in years past.
Behind the return of seniors shooting guard Hayward Register, a UL Ragin’ Cajuns signee, who averaged more than 20 points per game last season, 6-5 center Julian Thomas and guard Omosa Ogunsuyi, the Spartans are expected to be among the top teams in the state in Class 5A once again.
So far this season, the Spartans are off to a solid start at 6-2 — including an impressive 20-point win over district foe Acadiana in the Lafayette High Tip-Off Classic. Although he is happy with the victories, it’s the two losses against Glen Oaks and Westgate that bothers Melanson.
“We know that we can’t just play well in games,” said Melanson, whose Spartans will travel to face the Northside Vikings at 7:30 p.m. today in non-district action. “We can’t just play well. We have to win. We’re disappointed with those two losses because we know that we could have played a lot better. We lost to two quality opponents in Glen Oaks and Westgate, but with Hayward and Julian returning this year, the expectations for our team are definitely high.”
Register, who has asserted himself as one of the state’s best perimeter shooters, is the unquestioned go-to-player for the Spartans on the offensive side of the court, while Thomas has the ability to take over games on the defensive end as a shot blocker and rebounder.
“Hayward is definitely a lights out shooter,” Melanson said. “He is defending a lot better and he is handling the basketball a lot better, but he is a great shooter. He has had some games this year where he has shot the basketball well, but it still wasn’t one of those Register type shooting nights where he lights it up.
“Julian rebounds the basketball very and he is a good defender inside,” Melanson said. “We’re trying to get him to be (former Northside and Kentucky forward) Perry Stevenson. In the games that we have played well in, Julian has rebounded the ball well and has defended the basket. We need him to defend the basket and when he does we’re tough.”
For the most part, Melanson and the Spartans know what they are going to get from Register and Thomas, so the key to their success will be how well the supporting cast headlined by Ogunsuyi, junior point guard Keshawn Jones and sophomore forward Traylin Prejean plays alongside them.
“Traylin is 6-6 and he is starting to open eyes with his play,” Melanson said. “Julian has never had a player like that on the other side of him, so it has really helped him. When Keshawn is on the floor, we’re a much better team and we moved Ogunsuyi from point guard to off-guard because he’s a slasher and can get to the bucket.”
Melanson is confident in the players he has around his two stars, but finds the most difficult thing has been getting them to understand the offense doesn’t have to go through them.
“We’re a pretty balanced team,” Melanson said. “If our other starters and the players coming off the bench play their role and provide us with something, I believe we’ll be OK.”
Follow assistant sports editor Eric Narcisse on Twitter @tdanarcisse.