His Lafayette High Lady Lions were 34-0 going into the March 9, 5A girls’ basketball championship in Ruston. Southwood, said Casey, who is assistant coach in Lafayette, is the “John Curtis” of basketball, referencing the powerhouse football team.
Still, LHS emerged as winners, leaving the Thomas Assembly Center building at 35-0, out-battling a cold-shooting Southwood 39-32.
Thing is, as the buzzer sounded amid a frenzy of elation, Casey was thinking of his past as a basketball player at Teurlings Catholic High School, where he played from 1985 to 1988 and where Mayor Delhomme – many people still call him “coach” – led his son and the squad.
Casey tries and tries, but just cannot coach like his dad. Or so he says.
“The major thing I learned (from my father), and I’m yet to master as a coach and a father, is that he was able to instill confidence,” Casey recalled fondly a couple of weeks ago. “He was always telling me, and his players, ‘You know can do this!’
“But I’m so guilty of telling a kid what they do wrong,” Casey continued. “I always tend to correct the negatives instead of enforcing the positives. It’s a constant battle to try to emulate my dad. I fall short every single time.”
What does his dad think? Well, for one, that Casey is short-changing his abilities as a coach.
“Well, he’s a realist,” allowed Mayor Delhomme in an interview for Teche News last week. “The key is, you can be a realist, and that’s good in life. And you know, sometimes a realist can destroy (a player’s) confidence. But Casey is just being humble about all that. One thing about Casey is, he doesn’t like credit. That’s why principals love him – he’s on time, he pulls duty, he fills in when they need him.”
Casey not only coaches, but he also teaches, just as his dad did before him. The mayor – well-known for his gift of gab – stalls a bit as he tries to downplay his son’s self-assessed shortcomings as a coach.
“Listen,” the mayor said, “you’d be surprised. Casey has a great knack for adjusting during a game. Plus, he was such a hard worker as a player. And it’s true he works the hell out of his girls.”
The mayor then switches the conversation – as a good politician and loving father is apt to do – to the game his son co-coached for the state title. It was the very first girls’ basketball crown in LHS Lady Lions history – and it was played against an undefeated Southwood team, a rare unbeatens-vs.-unbeatens final.
Mayor Delhomme: “Southwood is tremendous program. They get players from Shreveport, from Arkansas, from Texas. It’s hard to have a perfect season, especially if you play Southwood.”
Finally, the mayor reveals a not-so-secret family fact.
“Casey and I talk every night. I’ll throw things at him, like, ‘Why are you playing this young lady over this young lady?’ And Casey says, ‘Well, dad, you see …’ He is such a doggone realist! But eventually he’ll take my advice –and then he’ll say, ‘Dad, you were right.’”
Teurlings, back in the late 1980s, was a Top 28 team.
“Plus,” Casey said, “my father was coaching, and a father-son making it to that pinnacle of high school competition was just incredible.”