Admittedly, Simsboro was caught off guard Tuesday night in the wake of its regional-round LHSAA boys basketball 84-47 dismantling of Elizabeth.
Moments after the final buzzer, the Tigers’ coaches began shifting the focus to the quarterfinal round, an anticipated visit from the always formidable Zwolle Hawks.
Not so fast, my friends. Stanley High School, the 23rd seeded squad in Class B made the 40-minute drive south from DeSoto Parish into northern Sabine Parish and pulled off one of the biggest shockers in all of the state playoff brackets, beating No. 7 Zwolle 55-52.
“We had started pulling together all we could on Zwolle. My assistants were watching tape and we were ahead of schedule,” said Simsboro head coach Josh Brown.
“I don’t care what the seeding number says, if you have a team that can go into Zwolle and beat them on their homecourt, you’ve got my complete respect,” he said.
So at 6 tonight, in a sold-out gym, the second-seeded Tigers (22-2) will be fully prepared and juiced up to meet the upstart Panthers, with a spot in the Class B state semifinals at Marsh Madness in Lake Charles at stake.
Simsboro has its sights on a fourth consecutive state championship game appearance, and a third Class B crown in the last four seasons. The sting of an 85-83 overtime loss in last year’s state finals is not forgotten.
But as the comedian George Burns observed, when asked the secret to reaching the age of 100, “first, you’ve got to be 99.” And for the Tigers, to get to that state championship, first, they’ve got to defend their homecourt. They’ve got to steam Stanley in the quarterfinals tonight.
BASEBALL: The Ruston Bearcats won their fourth straight Thursday night, cruising 12-2 past University High in the opening round of the Trey Altic Invitational at the Ruston Sports Complex. RHS (4-1) plays Parkway tonight at 7, then meets Eunice Saturday at 3 and Byrd at 5:30.
Joshua Miller had a pair of hits against UHigh, and Runnin’ RHS kept scampering around the bases. Six players had at least two steals, led by Jack Whitaker with five.
Cedar Creek fell Thursday night to Sacred Heart of Ville Platte, 10-2. The Cougars are back in action Tuesday at Ouachita Parish in their only scheduled action next week.
SOFTBALL: After posting a 13-10 victory over Neville Wednesday night, Ruston carried a 7-0 record into a Thursday night game at the Jackson Parish Sports Complex against Quitman.
The Lady Bearcats stay busy at home this weekend. At 4 this afternoon, they host Calvary Baptist and at 6 o’clock, they’ll battle Byrd. Saturday brings a 10 a.m. matchup against Airline followed by a 12:30 contest with Haughton, all at the Ruston Sports Complex.
Graphic: courtesy Simsboro High School