White Castle falls short in title game, but keeps long tradition intact
The first year leaves the door wide open for a head coach’s expectation, but White Castle basketball coach Dewon Carter thought one thing was certain.
Carter had served as an assistant coach for the Bulldogs, but he did not expect a trip to the Louisiana High School Association Marsh Madness Boys Basketball Tournament. Instead, his teamed surprised him when they reached the Class 1A state title game March 12 at Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles.
The Bulldogs emerged Class 1A runner-up after a tough battle that ended in a 51-38 loss to Arcadia, another mainstay among top contenders in prep basketball.
White Castle’s postseason trek continues one of the longest runs in Louisiana high school basketball, dating back to 1974. The Bulldogs ended the 2020-21 season 22-7.
“This is a program year-in and year-out that makes the playoffs, and we do it for the alumni of White Castle and all the people who live in White Castle,” Carter said. “If you don’t make it to the playoffs, you fail.”
For Carter, a trip to the championship game – and even a full season – did not seem possible at some points.
“We never knew during a game if there would be another game because of illness and cancelations during COVID,” he said. “We weren’t even sure we would have a season.
“Words can’t fully describe what we went through to get to this point,” Carter said. “During the year, I had COVID, and we had some tough losses on my wife’s side of the family and even my grandmother – everything from back-to-back. But being with these guys kept me going … I love all of these guys.”
In the championship game, a tight battle ensued throughout the first three quarters, but Arcadia held the Bulldogs to one goal in the last five minutes of action. White Castle trailed 32-31 at the end of the third stanza.
Arcadia posted an 11-8 lead at the end of the first quarter, but the Bulldogs cut the deficit to one point at halftime.
The late rally for Acadia began after the Bulldogs tied the game 36-36 with 5:22 remaining on the clock.
“We didn’t get them to turn over the ball the way we normally do,” Carter told reporters during the post-game conference. “We strive off that, getting fast breaks. They were making all their free throws and didn’t turn over the ball, and that was the key.”
A fierce showing on defense and a 14-of-16 showing at the free throw line made the difference for Arcadia.
Kevin Martin led White Castle with 12 points, including a 5-for-5 showing at the free throw line. Teammate Javonte Greene tallied nine and teammate Jalan Washington netted seven. Hakeem Young and Damian Pierce each had three, while Keith Landry and Javon Briley scored two apiece.
The Bulldogs punched their ticket to the state title game after an 86-70 win over No. 6 seed Northwood-Lena three days earlier.
WCHS roared past Northwood by 30 points in the third quarter, but their central Louisiana foes cut the Bulldog advantage to 11 toward the end of the fourth quarter.
The Bulldogs led 46-28 at halftime after taking a 24-10 lead in the opening stanza.
Martin and Landry each bucketed 20 points for WCHS, while Washington netted 18. The Bulldogs tallied eight 3-point goals, including three from Martin, two apiece from Washington and Pierce and one from Greene.