It’s early March, when Simsboro Tigers migrate to Lake Charles.
For the sixth straight year, the Simsboro High School boys basketball team has reached the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s Top 28 state Final Four. After blasting visiting Stanley 90-58 Friday night in the quarterfinals at home, the Tigers join the other three elite Class B teams at Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles in the semifinal round.
Tuesday at 5, second-seeded Simsboro (23-2) squares off with No. 3 Hathaway. In the other semi, at 7:30, it’s top-ranked Anacoco against No. 5 J.S. Clark Leadership Academy. The closest quarterfinal game was Hathaway’s 23-point win, leaving no doubt about the cream rising to the top in the B bracket.
“This Final Four is definitely better than the average one for Class B,” said Simsboro coach Josh Brown. “We’ve all beaten 5A and 4A teams. There are four very strong teams.”
The Tigers have the advantage when it comes to Marsh Madness experience. Every player has been there before, none moreso than senior Braxton Taylor, who dressed out as a seventh grader and will make his sixth Top 28 appearance.
“That’s a record that can’t be broken,” said Brown, noting players younger than the seventh grade can’t participate in varsity sports.
Simsboro takes aim at its third state championship in four seasons. To get that chance, the Tigers have to put away Hathaway, which ended Choudrant’s season 67-45 in a second-round game.
“They are very experienced, and well coached. They have a lot of shooters and kids who play tough,” said Brown. “It will be a war.”
Hathaway beat Simsboro in their last meeting, at the Top 28 in the 2017 semifinals. The Tigers won the next two state crowns and were nipped in overtime by two last year in the final.
Friday night at a sold-out homecourt, Simsboro overwhelmed 23rd-seeded Stanley, whose best player met his match in Tiger forward Nick Maryland.
“They had a really good 6-4 shooter, but Nick shut him down. Our team did a better job of attacking and playing our game,” said Brown.
Jamarian Cato pumped in 29 to lead the way for the Tigers, who will go to class today and practice in their own gym instead of traveling south. Covid-19 considerations make it prudent to limit hotel stays, said Brown, whose team will board a chartered bus Tuesday morning for the journey to their favorite, most familiar destination.
They intend to be there again Friday night at 7:30, for the state championship game that they’ve been part of since this year’s senior class were freshmen. Pay per view coverage is available at NFHSNetwork.com.
BASEBALL: After Thursday’s 12-2 romp over University High to open the Trey Altick Invitational, Ruston went 1-2 in its other tournament outings, falling 4-2 to Parkway, winning 6-1 over Eunice and losing 3-1 to Byrd.
Jacob Martin and Haydn Shoemaker each had two hits against the Panthers, who kept the Bearcats scoreless while taking a 3-0 lead into the fifth inning. In the win over Eunice, Ruston picked up two hits apiece from Cade Patterson, J.R. Tollett and Dawson Willis while Tollet struck out six Bobcats in four innings and led the offense with three RBI. Byrd broke a 1-1 tie with a two-spot in the sixth inning as the Bearcats were limited to three hits, two by Isaac White, whose homer in the fifth was the only RHS run.
Ruston (5-3) hosts North Caddo Tuesday at 5:30.
Cedar Creek (4-3) goes to Ouachita Parish Tuesday at 6:30. The Cougars dumped Opelousas Catholic 5-1 Friday, but were beaten twice Saturday, 8-3 by Bruly and 8-2 by Kinder. J.T. Stephens had two hits, including a double, and recorded the last five outs to earn a save in Cedar Creek’s win.
Bruly broke a 3-3 snag in the sixth to prevail. Kinder’s three-run first set the tone in the later game, when Cal Conroy led the Cougars with a pair of their four hits.
Graphic – Marsh Madness logo (courtesy LHSAA)