The Bossier Bearkats begin their quest for the Class 4A boys basketball state championship Thursday night at home against the Neville Tigers.
District 1-4A champion Bossier (22-10) is the No. 4 seed. Neville (12-16), which finished third in District 2, is No. 29.
The Tigers enter the playoff with three straight losses, although all were by less than 10 points. Neville fell to Class 3A Richwood 48-45 in overtime in its season finale.
After suffering consecutive losses to North Caddo, Ruston and Natchitoches Central entering district play, Bossier won nine of 10 to close the regular season. North Caddo is the No. 4 seed in Class 2A. Ruston is No. 5 in Class 5A and Natchitoches Central is No. 1.
Senior guard Larry Robinson III leads the Bearkats. Juniors Chris Davenport and Tyrese English, senior Travis Manning and junior Antonio Davis have also contributed to Bossier’s success. Freshman guard Jacoby Decker has given Bossier a boost off the bench.
Bossier is in the 4A playoffs for the first time since the 2010-11 season, when the Bearkats won the state title. Bossier was in Class 3A the last four seasons. The Bearkats had their earliest playoff exit since 2008 last season when they fell to No. 2 seed Rayville 69-58 in overtime in the second round.
Before that, Bossier had reached the Class 3A semifinals twice (2013 and 2014) and the championship game once (2012). Before winning the 4A championship in 2011, the Bearkats reached the finals in 2009 and 2010.
Bossier hasn’t lost in the first round since 2003.
The two other parish teams in the playoffs play Class 5A first-round games on the road Friday.
District 1 co-champion Parkway (21-10), the No. 28 seed, travels to No. 5 Ruston (24-7) in Class 5A.
Ruston defeated Parkway 56-34 in Ruston on Dec. 22.
In Class 1A, No. 26 Plain Dealing (13-14) will visit No. 7 Delhi Charter (13-11), the fourth-place team in District 2.
— Russell Hedges, firstname.lastname@example.org