The Ruston High School Lady Bearcats play at home today at 5:30 for at least a share of the District 2-5A girls basketball championship.
Used to be, a shot at a district crown was a very big deal, but priorities have since shifted with the arrival of power points and broadening the playoff brackets to bring in multiple teams from the same district, and not just the top two.
But it’s still a district title for a program that hasn’t sniffed one in a while, in one of the state’s tougher Class 5A districts. And as to those power points: every win is a good one and helps seeding in the state playoff bracket, which could be the difference between getting home games or playing on the road, which is often a big difference in winning and losing.
So this evening’s game matters for the Lady Bearcats (20-6, 6-2), ranked ninth in the state. It’s a rematch of a Jan. 22 Ruston win, by 45-43, at West Ouachita (8-11, 1-7).
The 7 p.m. nightcap shouldn’t be so dramatic. The Ruston boys (15-6, 3-5) routed West Ouachita 65-29 last month and can use a breather and a lift on the heels of very tough district defeats to Ouachita and at West Monroe Tuesday night.
Bearcats coach Ryan Bond was frustrated at Tuesday’s 54-51 loss to the state’s second-ranked team, but was also encouraged.
“The kids busted their tails, but we had just too many missed layups and turnovers. Against a good team you can’t waste opportunities to score,” he said. “We play great defense. Another positive: three ninth-graders combined to score 28 points against the No. 2-ranked team in the state.”
Ruston’s top scorers were freshmen Jamarion Lillard (12 points) and Lontravious Dimmer (10). The playoff-bound Bearcats wrap up the regular season at home Tuesday against defending state champion Alexandria Senior High (19-8, 3-2).
CEDAR CREEK: North of I-20, the Cedar Creek boys host Ouachita Christian at the Brickhouse in a single game slated for 7 p.m. The Cougars hope to avenge a 43-40 loss at OCS on Jan. 7.
The powerhouse Lady Cougars (18-3) played their last regular-season game Thursday night, blasting visiting Delta Christian by exactly the same margin, 35 (71-36), and almost the same score they won by in the first meeting (72-37). The Cedar Creek girls, ranked third in the state, get their LHSAA Division IV playoff assignment Monday and could start their push to the Sweet 16 late next week.
SIMSBORO: A good District 2-B doubleheader is tonight at Simsboro, featuring both district champs.
The high-scoring Simsboro boys (20-2, 5-0), ranked second in the state, will shoot for their 54th consecutive 2-B win dating back to 2013 against a Quitman squad (16-5, 3-2) that pushed the outcome into the fourth quarter in an 82-64 loss last week. The Lady Wolverines (22-2, 5-0) have locked up the district girls crown but the Lady Tigers (8-9, 2-3) should threaten them.
LINCOLN PREP: Lincoln Prep’s boys (4-12, 2-4) were edged 67-64 at Arcadia (15-1, 8-0) Thursday. It was the second near miss against Class A’s No. 4 team by coach Antonio Hudson’s squad, which lost 62-56 to the Hornets in Grambling. Earlier this week, the Panthers posted a 44-17 win Tuesday over Haynesville.
CHOUDRANT: The Aggies wrapped up District 2-B at home last night with a rematch of last week’s contests at Weston, and swept the twinbill. Behind Kylee Portilloz’s 25 points, 11 in the fourth quarter, the CHS girls (16-11, 3-3) won 59-50. The Choudrant boys crushed the Wolves 94-49, scoring 57 after halftime. Chris Williams poured in 24 points to lead the Aggies (14-11, 3-3).
Photo: Ruston HS credit