The Bossier Bearkats survived a wild finish Thursday afternoon, defeating No. 4 Brusly 53-51 in the Class 3A boys basketball semifinals at Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles.
Bossier (34-3), the No. 1 seed, is scheduled to face No. 2 Wossman (33-3) for the state title at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Wossman defeated No. 3 Madison Prep 48-46 in its semifinal game Wednesday. The Wildcats and Bearkats faced off twice in the regular season. Wossman won 67-61 on Nov. 27 in Monroe. Bossier won 59-57 on Jan. 10 at Bossier.
Bossier will be playing for a championship for the second straight year. The Bearkats lost to Breaux Bridge 61-58 in last year’s 4A title game.
It will be Bossier’s seventh title game appearance since 2009. The Bearkats won 4A state championships in 2011 and 2016. Bossier also won the 1960 Cass AAA championship.
Bossier survived a technical foul and a driving layup attempt by Brusly’s talented guard, 5-foot-5 Ja’Sean LeDuff, in the final 6 seconds to pull out the victory.
Bossier head coach Nick Bohanan admitted his team sometimes does things the hard way. But he said the Bearkats are a gritty bunch that knows how to win.
“Do it the most difficult way possible,” he said in a phone interview. “The thing is somehow we’re still alive and have an opportunity to play for a state championship.
“It was a typical (state tournament) game. Two good teams, it’s just a battle. You have to keep going to the end.”
Tim King hit a pair of free throws with 6 seconds left to give Bossier a 53-50 lead. Brusly then made the first technical free throw and missed the second.
LeDuff drove the lane crowded with Bearkats looking for a foul or layup. His contested shot was well off the mark. There was no foul and James Davis secured the rebound as time ran out.
Deen, who had four fouls going into the fourth quarter, led Bossier with 17 points. King added 14 and Lakavin Thomas 12.
King knocked down two 3-pointers and scored all but two of his points in the second quarter when the Bearkats turned a 10-8 deficit into a 27-22 lead.
Deen sank a big 3-pointer at the first-half buzzer.
“That seemed to get him going,” Bohanan said.
Bossier got in foul trouble in the first half which limited the amount of defensive pressure the Bearkats could apply.
“We really wanted to pressure them a little bit more,” Bohanan said. “We just couldn’t. Every time we tried to go man they called quick fouls so we had to go back to our zone just trying to keep bodies on the floor.”
Bossier led 42-32 with just over a minute left in the third quarter. But the Panthers rallied thanks to 3-point shooting and turnovers by the Bearkats. They cut the lead to 42-41 going into the fourth.
Brusly hit four 3-pointers in the quarter, including three by Nick Penell.
“The foul count in the second half was actually in our favor,” Bohanan said. “But instead of attacking the basket, we settled for pull up jumpers and 3s, giving them life.”
Bohanan said forward Cinco Bryant was one of the Bearkats who stepped up on defense in the second half.
“Cinco had some big plays, keeping balls alive, getting rebounds,” he said.
Bossier led by as many as five in the fourth but couldn’t put the Panthers away, setting up the wild finish.
Penell and LeDuff led Brusly with 18 and 17 points, respectively.
Bohanan was impressed with LeDuff, who had some big games in the playoffs.
“He’s a heck of a ball player that No. 2,” he said. “That sucker is quick. He can get in there and get to the basket.”