DENHAM SPRINGS – The basketball success of Denham Springs High’s girls and boys teams has pleased their coaches, but both coaches say they still have a lot of work ahead.

Shelly Laprarie and Kevin Caballero both gave the Denham Springs Kiwanis Club a rundown Thursday on their teams’ progress as they prepare to begin District 4-5A play next week.

“We go into the season losing 11 seniors from last year. Some programs don’t have 11 people on their team,” Laprarie said. “Our biggest obstacle coming into the season was to find players to step up and help us.”

Her players have responded with a 14-8 record, she said.

“What a difference a year makes for our boys program,” Caballero added.

Last year, the Jackets were 10-23 and Caballero said it was the first time in nine years he did not coach in the playoffs.

But this year, Denham Springs is 16-5.

On Friday night, the basketball teams will have a special evening hosting Jewel Sumner, Caballero said.

The boys junior varsity begins at 5 p.m. and the girls junior varsity will play at 6 p.m., followed by the varsity boys, he said.

“You will get a chance to see both of us,” he said.

The Lady Jackets open their district schedule on Tuesday against Central.

“Three of our losses were to out-of-state teams,” Laprarie said, which are not counted in the LHSAA power rankings.

Of the remaining five losses, all five are ranked in the top five in their classes or divisions, she said.

“Our lineup is shifting a lot due to injuries and battling the flu. We have not had our full roster since the jamboree,” Laprarie said, “but everybody steps up and does the job for us.”

Meanwhile, the boys team opens district play against Live Oak next week.

“Winning is important; it’s the reason why I keep my job. If you don’t win, you will move on,’ Caballero said.

“At my age now, it is a little more important to make these guys into men,” he said.

The Yellow Jackets are coming off an important win Wednesday night, when they beat undefeated Episcopal 46-40.

“Our guys played hard. We’re real proud of them,” Caballero said.

“One player came off the bench to hit two free throws with 12 seconds in the game. If you don’t play a lot and go on someone else’s floor and go to the free-throw line, it’s pretty intimidating,” Caballero said.

“If you defend, make free throws and layups and rebound, you can have a little success in high school,” Caballero said.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think we would be 16-5 -- maybe .500 -- and I prayed not 10-23,” he said.

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