What do the St. Martinville Tigers and the Teurlings Catholic Rebels have in common?
For starters, they both have 20 wins on the year.
They have both won 10 of their past 11 games.
Both have beaten perennial powers St. Thomas More, Northside and Westgate in district play.
They are both 7-1 in district and tied for first place in District 5-4A.
And prior to the start of the season, neither team were expected to be sitting atop of the district standings.
“To us it is not really surprising,” Rebels head coach Jake Dueitt said. “We knew we’d have a good team, but I think to the outside looking in it is probably a little surprising and that’s fine with us. We’ve gladly flown under the radar, but coming into this year we knew we’d have a really good team if we could put the pieces together and so far we’ve done a good job of that.”
At 7:30 p.m. today, the Tigers (20-7, 7-1), who haven’t won the district championship since 2007, will look to complete the season sweep of the Rebels (21-7, 7-1), who have never won a district title since moving up to 4A, when they travel to face Teurlings in a pivotal District 5-4A contest.
“It’s as big as all the others,” Tigers head coach Darrell Mitchell Sr. said. “But it’s real big in the sense of the power rating that they have. So, it’s two on top now and we can settle that (today). Either they are going to be on top or we’ll be on top.”
In the first meeting, the Tigers defeated the Rebels 52-46 in St. Martinville in a tight battle throughout, but Teurlings is hoping to do a better job of defending against St. Martinville’s talented guards headlined by Bradley Savoy and Drapper Anthony.
“They are a really good team,” Dueitt said. “They got good size (and) they got great guard play. (They’re) fast-fast. Those guards are as quick as cats. You cant’ really give them much room because they can shoot it well. They have the ability to break you down.”
“I see a talented ballclub,” Rebels guard Sage Leblanc said of St. Martinville. “Really athletic, big guy inside and good shooting guards.”
But defending the Rebels will be no walk in the park either, especially defending the 6-7 Cole Kelley on the inside and outside as well as their guards Leblanc and Grant Lagrange.
“They are a pretty good team,” Anthony said of Teurlings. “They are big and physical. Their big guy Cole Kelley is hard to contain.”
Mitchell believes it is going to be vital for the Tigers to find a way to limit Kelley’s effectiveness, while not allowing his supporting cast to hurt them with their shooting ability on the perimeter.
“Cole Kelley is the main attraction and the other guys surround themselves around him,” Mitchell said. “They contribute the little things that they need to win around him. He’s a great player. He’s inside and outside. They shoot the ball well, they are very patient and they run a good offense. The main ingredient is Cole Kelley.”
Both teams understand what’s at stake and no one from either is is attempting to downplay the significance of today’s game.
“It’s a very big game,” Kelley said. “Winner is going to be first in district. We haven’t won a district championship in who knows how long, so I don’t care how many points it is, it is the district championship and (it’ll) be fun to win.”