Ruston High School resumed athletic competition Sunday and made it well worth the wait.
The ninth-seeded Lady Bearcats basketball team sunk Sulphur in the first round of the LHSAA Class 5A playoffs, 49-42. After defending their homecourt, coach Meredith Graf’s 22-7 team, the District 2-5A co-champs, go to fifth-seeded Hahnville Tuesday at 5:30 in the second round.
In Baton Rouge, the Ruston track and field teams were unofficial north Louisiana Division I champions at the LHSAA Indoor Championships Sunday at LSU’s Carl Maddox Field House. The Bearcats were a strong second statewide, with their 74 points trailing only the 87 of Zachary, while the Lady Bearcats took fifth in team scoring with 25 points, the only north Louisiana team to notch more than eight points.
Brandon Green won the Division I boys triple jump crown by over three feet (48-11 ½), and was second in the long jump (22-1 ½) to score 18 points for the Bearcats. Dyllon Nimmers accounted for 17 ½ points with his state championship in the 800 meter run (1:59.68), a third in the 1600 (4:24.90) and the anchor leg on the third-place 4×800 relay (8:27.10).
Kemiah Spencer made the tough choice of stepping away from her starting job with the basketball team and heading to the state meet, and validated it with a state title. She ran the lead leg on the Lady Bearcats’ winning 4×200 relay, followed by Jada Williams, Corlaisa Scott and Tyra Fields as they clocked a 1:43.43 time.
BASKETBALL: The Ruston Bearcats will be among boys’ basketball teams getting their state playoff pairings today. Simsboro in Class B is again the top contender among parish teams.
In first-round LHSAA girls basketball news:
Simsboro, seeded 17th, finally goes to Castor Monday evening at 5 in a Class B game delayed from Saturday.
Cedar Creek, No. 3 in Division IV, opens its drive to Marsh Madness Tuesday night at 6 in the Brickhouse.
Two more parish teams posted blowout victories Sunday.
Lincoln Prep, 12th seeded in Class A, smashed Centerville 93-41. The Lady Panthers will visit a familiar foe, district rival Homer, in the second round. The Lady Pels swept the district meetings, 44-30 at home and 40-31 at Grambling.
Choudrant, No. 12 in Class B, overwhelmed Monterey 44-13. The Lady Aggies play perennial state power Anacoco, the No. 5 seed, down in Vernon Parish Tuesday at 5.
Against Sulphur, Ruston saved its best for last. The Lady Bearcats rang up 19 fourth-quarter points, pushing away from a 30-28 edge after three periods.
Emerald Parker scored eight of her 10 points in the final eight minutes. Jaliyah McWain led RHS with 12 points and sank 3 of 4 free throws in the fourth period. Mariah Hintze and Zaccheya Jackson each drained 3-pointers in the decisive surge.
Alexis Foster had a trio of treys in the first half, when Ruston outscored Sulphur 16-8 in the second period to get on top to stay.
“We didn’t have our best shooting performance overall, but we continued to play hard and found a way. This was a true team effort,” said Graf.
“Now we have a quick turnaround and have to focus on Hahnville. I’m looking forward to taking on the challenge with this group of girls.”
A win at Hahnville would send Ruston into the quarterfinals against top-seeded Ponchatoula on Thursday. Hahnville blasted Airline 76-50 Sunday.
LHSAA INDOOR TRACK & FIELD: The Bearcats stacked up 16 points in the 800. Along with Nimmers’ victory by nearly two seconds, teammate Caleb Babineaux snagged bronze in 2:01.13.
The Ruston boys got 12 points from Ke’travion Hargrove with his runner-up finish in the 60 meter dash (6.96), a fifth place 8.51 in the 60 meter hurdles and another fifth in the long jump (21-3 ¼).
The Bearcats’ third-place 4×800 relay squad was Josiah Whitaker, Bryar Madden, Titus Watts and Nimmers.
Joshua Anding claimed fourth in the 400 (51.36) and opened the fourth-place 4×400 foursome, followed by Demarco Buckner, Demarion Rhone and Whitaker, who combined on a 3:30.24 time.
Along with her leg on the championship 4×200 relay, Williams took second in the 400 (58.16) to top the Lady Bearcats’ scoring with 10 ½ points. The Ruston girls got six points with a third in the 4×800 relay from Zoie Holstead, Lily Garrett, Destiny Tatum and Hannah Rollins (10:15.92).
Photo – Ruston girls – courtesy RHS