BATON ROUGE – Denham Springs coach Kevin Caballero knows there’s not a lot to glean from a victory over District 4-5A rival Central in the month of June.
He’s hopeful, though, his Yellow Jackets can be as efficient on offense and stifling on defense as they were in Monday’s 53-26 win over the Wildcats during play in the Woodlawn Summer League.
“I thought we played well,” Caballero said. “I didn’t think they played very bad other than they didn’t make any shots. When you go to Central, they’ll be making those shots.”
Denham Springs established a commanding 16-2 first-quarter lead, finishing the final three minutes on a 13-0 run – fueled by eight straight from guard D.J. Williams.
During that decisive stretch, the Yellow Jackets converted Xavier Miles’ blocked shot into a fastbreak lay-in from Williams, who also turned a pair of turnovers into easy baskets and wound up with 10 points.
“I thought we got off to a good start,” said Caballero, whose team made 7-of-12 shots in the opening quarter. “I thought the kids competed well.”
Central, which lost its entire starting five from a year ago, tried to turn up its full-court pressure in order to create turnovers and possibly get back into the game.
DSHS overcame five turnovers and burned Central on the other end of the floor, breaking the Wildcats’ pressure and getting an array of high-percentage shots for a 31-15 halftime advantage.
“For better or for worse, we’re really spending this summer trying to work on our pressure, even if it costs us games,” Central coach Brian Hargroder said. “They got behind us several times. We’re trying to find our identity. This summer’s about learning how to play hard and compete.”
DSHS, which shot 60% (21 of 35) overall, successfully opened the third quarter with a set play that resulted in four points and a 35-15 lead.
Leading scorer Micah Banks (11 points) was fouled on a made 3-pointer coming off a staggered screen at the top of the key and his free throw expanded the Jackets' lead to their biggest to that juncture.
“We wanted to come out in the second half like we did to begin the game,” Caballero said. “Sometimes with you kids you get a lead and they tend to come out a little lethargic. That play got us going good in the third quarter.”
Tyler Sherman, who led Central with 9 points, dropped in a 3-pointer from the corner and Destin Franklin added a pair of free throws to make it 37-22 at the 3:08 mark, but the Wildcats missed their last six shots of the quarter.
Central shot 25% (10 of 40) for the game and suffered 13 turnovers.
“When the score gets rolling downhill, you start looking at the scoreboard and getting frustrated,” Hargroder said. “Our main goal is to play hard and compete for the summer.”
DSHS built its biggest lead (51-22) on the strength of a 14-0 spurt that carried over into the final quarter, including six points from freshman Jabbarry Fortenbarry and a basket from JV Johnson.
“It’s good to play against a district team,” Caballero said. “That’s not going to be Central (we’ll see later) and hopefully we’ll be better by the time we get into January and February.”