Lady Bearcats are champs; Parish prep hoops roundup

Now THAT’s how you salt away your first district title in what feels like forever.

Ruston High School walloped West Ouachita 53-18 Friday evening to lock up a share of the District 2-5A girls basketball championship, the first league crown for the Lady Bearcats in a decade or more.

It’s certainly not happened since any of the current RHS girls began playing basketball for school teams. They didn’t know how to multiply or divide the last time the Lady Bearcats were champs.

The good vibes continued, as expected, in the nightcap as the boys rolled 79-40, taking command quickly and scoring 46 after halftime.

While a Lady Bearcats win was expected against the struggling visitors, the Ruston girls had memories of a close call, a 45-43 squeaker on the road in the first meeting last month. Not this time. It was 10-2 after one quarter, 21-8 at the half and the rout was on. RHS outscored WOHS 32-10 afterward, 16-2 in the final eight minutes.

What pleased third-year coach Meredith Graf the most? Her team’s unselfishness.

“Tonight was a great night and a wonderful way to end the regular season. Our girls had good focus and intensity from the jump. I loved our sharing of the ball and shared scoring,” she said.

Epitomizing teamwork, all 10 Lady Bearcats who played scored, but nobody scored 10. Cassandra Evans, Zaccheya Jackson and Emerald Parker each notched eight, with six apiece from Mariah Hintze and Kemiah Spencer. Alexis Foster scored five, Jaliyah McWain four, Kiona McCallister and Kelaiya McGuire three, and La’Marcyah Parker added two.

“This was about more than just West Ouachita. Playing for the right to be district champs, something that hasn’t been done here in 10-15 years or so, our girls knew that opportunity was precious, and played that way. This is a wonderful accomplishment to be co-district champs for this team, and for our program as a whole,” said Graf, who was an assistant four years ago, then took the top spot on the bench. “It’s something that should be appreciated and enjoyed because you never know when it can happen again.

“Moving into the playoffs, we will take the mentality of survive and advance. We will take great pride in our preparations and lay it all out there on the floor. I look forward to competing against whoever it is in our first round home game. We will give our best.”

The playoff path is slated to be unveiled today on LHSAA.com with the Lady Bearcats (21-7), ranked ninth in the state, assured of starting their postseason at home.

The Ruston boys (16-6, 4-5) also got scoring from 10 players in a balanced performance. Josh Dean set the pace with 12, Markel Jones had 11 and Zhy Scott 10 for coach Ryan Bond’s club.

The playoff-bound Bearcats are slated to wrap up the regular season at home Tuesday against defending state champion Alexandria Senior High (20-8), but weather conditions could delay things.

CEDAR CREEK: The playoff bracket takes shape today for the Lady Cougars (18-3) who will get their marching orders in Division IV, starting at home.

SIMSBORO: The state’s second-ranked Class B team slaughtered the next-best squad in District 2-B, Quitman, by 70. Yes, 7-0. Seventy. The 96-26 final Friday night looked nothing like an 82-64 Simsboro win at Quitman (16-6, 3-3) a couple weeks ago.

Winning their 54th consecutive 2-B game, the Tigers (21-2, 6-0) drained 12 3-pointers and raced on top 31-8 after the first eight minutes. Braxton Taylor led the champs with 17, while Jamarian Cato scored 13 and Chilaydrien Newton 11.

The Simsboro girls (8-10, 2-4) put up a fine fight against the district champion Lady Wolverines (23-2, 6-0) before falling 46-36. Quitman had to overcome a 32-27 deficit entering the fourth quarter. Ivory Brown scored 17 for the Lady Tigers.

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