Column: Bossier has enjoyed a remarkable run of success in boys basketball

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Editor’s Note: Sports Editor Russell Hedges has been at The Press-Tribune for almost 10 years. During this hiatus in high school sports, he will have an occasional look at trends and big moments in the last 10 years. The following column ran in the April 22 print edition.

With three state championships and four runner-up finishes in the last 12 years, it’s safe to call the Bossier High Bearkats a dynasty.

Here are some numbers to back it up.

Based on my research, the Bearkats are 286-61 (82 percent) from 2010-11 to 2019-20. Bossier won Class 4A state championships in 2011 and 2016 and the Class 3A title last season.

The Bearkats were the 3A runner-up in 2012 and the 4A runner-up in 2019. For good measure, Bossier reached the 3A semifinals in 2013 and 2014.

Of course, Bossier’s basketball success started long before the 2010-2011 season when the Bearkats won the second boys basketball state title in school history. That also coincided with my first school year as a sports reporter at the Bossier Press-Tribune.

In the two seasons before I arrived, Bossier had back-to-back state runner-up finishes in 4A. The Bearkats went 36-6 in 2008-09 and 38-2 in 2009-10.

According to the late Jerry Byrd, a longtime sports editor at the Press-Tribune and a local sports historian, the 74 wins was the best two-year total in Bossier Parish history.

Add those seasons in and Bossier is a remarkable 360-69 (84 percent) in the last 12 seasons. According to Byrd, the 38 wins in 2009-2010 ranks as the second-most in parish — and school — history. Bossier went 41-4 in 1959-60 when it won the 1960 Class 1A title under head coach John McConathy.

Remarkably, Bossier began a stretch of 12 straight seasons with 26 or more wins in 2002-03 when a team coached by Ronnie Howell went 27-11. That means Bossier has won 26 or more games 17 of the last 18 seasons. 

And that includes eight seasons of 30 or more wins including five in a row from 2008-09 to 2012-13. A 20-win season is generally considered a very good one.

So how have the Bearkats achieved such remarkable success?

Coaching is one reason. Since I arrived at The Press-Tribune, the Bearkats have had two head coaches — Jeremiah Williams and Nick Bohanan.

Bohanan pulled off one of the best coaching jobs I’ve seen this past season. The Bearkats won the title despite losing two starters late in the season.

One of those was 6-foot-8 forward D’Ante Bell, who suffered a knee injury in the final regular-season game. Not many teams, if any, could overcome that.

Bohanan said it was basically like starting over in some respects.

Williams is not just one of the most successful coaches in parish history but in the state. He led Bossier to eight district championships, three state runner-up finishes and two state championships in 10 seasons.

One day he will no doubt be inducted into the Louisiana High School Sports Hall of Fame.

Of course, Bossier has had other outstanding coaching throughout its history, including Chris White, Bobby Joe Rusley, Howell, Larry Toms, Frank Lampkin and McConathy.

Any coach will tell you that you have to have talent to win championships. Bossier has had more than its share.

Since the Press-Tribune revived its All-Parish team after the 2011-12 season, 12 Bearkats have made first team, including four  MVPs — Larry Robinson III,  Devonte Hall (twice), Jacoby Decker (twice) and Cody Deen.

And if we had had an All-Parish team in 2010-11, my first year at The Press-Tribune, it’s a pretty good bet Jalan West would’ve been the MVP.

The parish has a strong middle school boys basketball program with some outstanding coaches. Main feeder school Rusheon has provided the Bearkats with a lot of talent along with some of the other schools.

Any sports program needs to have strong backing from the school’s administration. Bossier has no doubt had that under David Thrash, the principal since 2006.

Not only has he supported the program, he hired Williams from Northwood in 2007 and then promoted Bohanan in 2017 after he served eight years as assistant.

One thing Bossier has not done is win back-to-back state titles. The only parish team to accomplish that was Haughton under Billy Montgomery in 1968 and 1969.

The Bearkats will have a chance to match that this season. It won’t be a surprise if they do.

Russell Hedges is Sports Editor of the Bossier Press-Tribune. He may be reached at rhedges@bossierpress.com

Bossier season-by-season since 2008-09 (Press-Tribune research)

2008-09 — 36-6, 4A runner-up

2009-10 — 38-2, 4A runner-up

2010-11 — 33-2 4A champion

2011-12 — 31-4 3A runner-up

2012-13 — 30-4 3A semifinals

2013-14 — 26-8 3A semifinals

2014-15 — 15-12, 3A second round

2015-16 — 27-10, 4A state champion

2016-17 — 30-7, 4A quarterfinals

2017-18 — 27-7, 4A second round

2018-19 — 32-4, 4A runner-up

2019-20 — 35-3, 3A state champion

— This column has been updated to correct the two years in a row Bossier made it to the 3A semifinals and the combined number of wins in 2008-09 and 2009-10.