Ruston High’s Lady Bearcats are shooting for the District 2-5A championship Tuesday night at West Monroe following a statement win at home Friday night over Ouachita.
The 56-45 victory was the 20th of the season for third-year head coach Meredith Graf and her squad (20-6, 6-1). It sets up a 5:30 contest at WMHS Tuesday evening for the league crown.
The Ruston boys dropped a 47-39 decision to the Lions Friday night. They play West Monroe at 7 Tuesday.
In other parish prep hoops Friday, Choudrant’s boys surprised visiting Quitman 63-59 while the Lady Wolverines prevailed 50-44.
Simsboro’s powerhouse boys team rolled 93-56 at Weston, but the Lady Wolves overcame a 20-point deficit to upset the Lady Tigers 55-49.
Cedar Creek’s boys avenged a 1-point loss at Tensas by pulling out a 51-47 win at the Brickhouse.
Lincoln Prep’s boys notched their second win in as many nights, prevailing 58-53 at Homer after beating Arcadia 62-56 on Thursday.
The LPHS girls walloped Arcadia 58-33 Thursday but the Lady Pelicans flew to a 44-30 win over the visitors Friday night.
At RHS, the Lady Bearcats opened a 32-15 halftime lead by outpointing the visitors 20-6 in the second period. Ouachita got within 41-35 entering the fourth quarter, but the Ruston defense ruled the night.
“I am very proud of this win for our girls. The first time we played Ouachita (a 73-54 loss), we did not play very well and we knew that was not who we were. Ouachita is a quality team and we knew we were going to have to play hard and smart to have a chance,” said Graf.
“There were three major factors for our success: a season low of 12 turnovers, our half court defensive execution, and our second chance points,” said Graf.
Junior Alexis Foster led RHS scoring with 11, followed by freshman Jaliyah McWain (10), junior Kemiah Spencer (8 points, 6 rebounds, 4 steals) and freshman Zacceya Jackson (8 points, 5 rebounds).
“It was another good team win with a balanced spread of scoring and each player coming in to do their best no matter how long they were in,” Graf said.
She understated the stakes of Tuesday’s trip east on I-20, keeping an eye on the bigger picture, the upcoming state playoffs.
“Our next challenge lies with a road game versus another quality opponent, West Monroe. Our hope is to continue to get better as we head into the playoffs,” said Graf.
Ruston’s boys locked down in a defensive battle with Ouachita, falling 47-39. The Lions opened a 14-8 first quarter lead and were up 36-23 entering the fourth period, when the Bearcats’ rally fell short. An off night behind the arc (2-15) and a 36-28 rebounding disadvantage hampered coach Ryan Bond’s squad (15-5, 3-4).
“We could not match their physicality,” he said. “They controlled throughout.”
Simsboro’s boys (19-1, 4-0) got 19 points from Jamarion Cato and 17 by Chiladrien Newton as they moved to 43-0 in District 2-B since 2013. The state’s second-ranked Class B team won its 12th straight overall this season and scored 20 or more in each quarter.
The Lady Tigers (8-8, 2-2) led 30-13 at halftime as Ikea Brown poured in 17 of her game-high 28 points but Weston (14-12, 1-3) hit 15 of 20 free throws afterward and outscored SHS 42-19.
Eight 3-pointers helped the Choudrant boys turn the tables on the visiting Wolverines. Chris Williams poured in 24 points and Sammy Smith added 16 for the Aggies (13-8, 2-2) as Quitman (16-5, 2-2) failed to sweep the season series.
Choudrant’s girls (13-10, 0-2) threatened Quitman (21-2, 4-0) but the Lady Wolverines went 10 of 12 at the line as they overcame a one-point deficit in the fourth quarter. Katie Wiley scored 18 and Kylee Portilloz 17 for CHS.
Tuesday night, Choudrant goes to Simsboro in an intra-parish doubleheader.
Photo: Ruston High School