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Delta Charter JV beats varsity teams

Delta Charter School’s Freddie Mango takes a shot during a game. Even though Delta Charter team is a junior varsity squad, they have been hanging with and beating several varsity teams. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

Delta Charter School’s Freddie Mango takes a shot during a game. Even though Delta Charter team is a junior varsity squad, they have been hanging with and beating several varsity teams. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

 

FERRIDAY — Delta Charter School basketball players were clueless when it came to their potential.

After all, why would the team have high hopes with their head coach scheduling varsity games despite his school only having ninth and 10th graders?

Pulling up to Bogalusa High School on Nov. 13 for a jamboree contest, the first player the team saw was Bogalusa’s 6-foot-7 center.

“The kids were looking at me like, ‘Man, I don’t know coach,’” Delta Charter head coach Dewayne Taylor said.

A long, athletic LHSAA Class 3A team greeted the newcomers on the block, but though Delta Charter’s ninth-and-10th grade bunch looked outmatched, the play on the court did not necessarily reflect it.

“They were trying to intimate us,” guard Jalen Williams said.

Bogalusa emerged victorious, but not before ninth grade point guard Dae’Vern Mayes and his teammates left a strong impression in a 37-23 contest played in two 10-minute halves.

“We weren’t expecting to win,” guard Freddie Mango said. “That was a tough loss. We feel like we can hang in with the best now.”

Taylor called it the turning point of the season, even though it was the junior varsity’s first contest.

“We handled the pressure,” Taylor said. “We went up there and went toe-to-toe with them, but their depth on the bench and their size wore us down. But after that game, even though it was a loss, our guys knew. They said, ‘If we can play with them, we can play with anybody.”

Since that loss, the team has won nine games and only lost one, making The Storm 9-2 on the season.

Dae’Vern Mayes leads the team in scoring, but Taylor said his team is so much more than one talented point guard. In fact, Taylor said teammate Jalen Williams is the only player that gives Mayes fits, and that Mayes struggles the most against Williams’ defense.

“We talk about it all the time, Jalen is the only guy that can really guard Dae’Vern,” Taylor said. “It’s good to have those guys to interchange out.”

It’s also been good for Taylor to have the Hatten brothers — Jonny and Johnquarious — to set the pace around the rim and rack up rebounds and play janitor around the hoop.

Another crucial figure is Freddie Mango, who is a defensive standout.

“He can play anything,” Taylor said. “When I first saw him run in the gym, I said, ‘He’s got to be the fastest guy in Concordia Parish.’ I mean, he can dunk right now standing on two feet.”

Playing against bigger teams, and scheduling varsity games with just a junior varsity club was a gamble for Taylor. Had his team lost confidence, they might have lost interest in what he was trying to build. But the risk paid off, and even better, it’s created promise for a school that is still trying to be accepted by the LHSAA for 2015. Whether The Storm are granted the opportunity of playing for a state championship in 2015-16 or not, most around the state will know better than to take Delta Charter lightly.

“People know who we are now,” Taylor said. “We’re coming.”

 

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