After losing two starters late in the regular season, there were some who may have wondered if the Bossier Bearkats still had what it takes to make a deep run in the Class 3A playoffs.
Well wonder no more. The No. 1 seed Bearkats defeated No. 9 Richwood 70-55 in the quarterfinals before a packed house at Bossier.
Bossier (33-3) will play No. 4 Brusly (28-5), a 67-62 winner over No. 12 Ville Platte, in the semifinals next week in the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Non-Select Boys’ Marsh Madness state tournament at Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles.
Richwood closed its season 24-10.
“I know a lot of people probably doubted us and didn’t think we could get back down there, but at the end of the day these kids are tough,” Bossier head coach Nick Bohanan said. “They’re resilient. They take anything thrown their way and they don’t bat an eye. They’re not going to back down.”
This will be Bossier’s second straight trip to the state tournament. Last year, the Bearkats lost to Breaux Bridge in the Class 4A title game.
“It’s special,” Bohanan said. “Every group that gets down there is special, this group especially. They could have folded up.”
Thirty games into the season Bossier lost one starter. Two games later, in the final game of the regular season, 6-foot-7 D’Ante Bell suffered a season-ending knee injury.
“You’re 33 games into the season and you’re adjusting when you should be able to just roll,” Bohanan said. “It’s a testament to all the guys. Even the guys that didn’t dress tonight.”
Bohanan said four freshmen and JV players helped the team in practice Wednesday and Thursday along with some other subs.
“I want those guys to understand how important they are to the success we’ve had,” he said. “They’re the reason we’re going down there. Without the preparation we had Wednesday and Thursday, getting ready for the pressure, getting ready for the constant trapping, getting ready for the hard fouling.”
Another big reason Bossier is headed back to the state tournament is the play of Cody Deen. The senior guard poured in 30 points. He was 14 of 15 from the free throw line in the second half, including eight of nine in the fourth quarter.
“We’ve been through a lot of adversity,” Deen said. “This past month has been hard for all of us. Our brothers, we lost them. We’ve got to pick them up. Next man up at Bossier.”
Tim King scored 19 points, including 12 in the first half. Joseph Manning added 12, including eight in the second.
Bohanan also credited Decamerion Richardson and James Davis, better known for their exploits on the football field, for pulling down some tough rebounds, especially after Cinco Bryant fouled out.
Bossier led 13-10 after a foul-filled first quarter during which both teams had trouble scoring from short and long range.
With the Bearkats leading 20-17 and about 3:30 left in the half, Cinco Bryant knocked down Bossier’s first 3-pointer. That gave the Bearkats a spark.
Not long after Bryant’s 3, King hit one. Then it was Deen’s turn.
Richwood finally hit its first 3-pointer, but the damage was done. Bossier led 33-22 at the half.
Bohanan called it a “ripple effect.”
He said he got a text about that very subject Friday morning.
“I talked to the boys about it at practice, and I talked to them bout it again before the game,” he said. “I said that ripple effect can work both ways. We could turn it over and that leads to another turnover and another turnover or we can make a big shot and another shot and then we make another shot.”
Richwood had its best offensive effort in the third quarter with 20 points. But Deen scored 10 of the Bearkats’ 17 points and Bossier led 50-42.
Richwood, which brought a large contingent of fans from Monroe, got within four in the fourth. But an 11-1 Bossier run ended the suspense.
“I couldn’t be prouder of this group,” Bohanan said. “They faced a lot of adversity and they just hung in there and kept fighting.”