By T. Scott Boatright
MONROE — No pain, no gain.
That’s the philosophy Simsboro boys basketball coach took Thursday night after watching his Class B Tigers take a 64-50 road defeat at the hands of 5A Ouachita at the Madhouse on Milhaven.
The Tigers, now 21-3, entered the game as the No. 1 in Class B based on GeauxPreps.com power rankings while Ouachita, now 17-6, is the No. 3 team in Class 5A.
And in this case, “David” never stood a chance as “Goliath” outscored the Tigers 12-2 in the opening stanza and never looked back.
Ouachita isn’t the only Class 5A team Simsboro has taken on this season. The Tigers lost to St. Paul’s by the same score of 64-50 last Saturday.
Simsboro coach Josh Brown said despite the identical scores, the games were quite different from each other.
“It was two different styles of play,” Brown said. “Against St. Paul’s, our offense – we didn’t move the ball very well. And that’s what got us down. It was the same situation as tonight, we just got down early.
“I thought tonight, it was poor shooting and some very uncharacteristic missed assignments on defense. We’re usually good on the ball and we got blown by a couple of times. But you have to give Ouachita a lot of credit, because they’re really good. They’re a very well-coached team. They’re very skilled. They have great athletes, and you can’t make mistakes against that kind of team and expect to win. We just didn’t play well enough to win.”
It wasn’t only that the Tigers were playing five classes up against Ouachita. The Lions also had a significant size advantage over Simsboro, with three players ranging between 6-5 and 6-7.
“We haven’t played a team that big, not even St. Paul’s,” Brown said. “They’ve got a lot of size and a lot of athleticism. They’re just really good. Like I told our guys, that’s what we want to face. Not only is Ouachita big, Bradshaw and (6-7 Treyvon) Bradford are really skilled big guys. They’re not only 6-5 or 6-6, they can put the ball on the floor and handle it. They can shoot it. Ouachita is really good. There’s a reason they’re ranked No. 3 in 5A. They’re that good.”
Brown wasn’t about to use the “Davis vs. Goliath” them as an excuse.
“Nobody is forcing us to come play a game against a 5A team. We’re doing that because we’re trying to get better and we feel like playing those teams ultimately will make us better. It’s going to let us know what we need to work on. The things we need to improve on. Again, our only goal is to win a championship.”
Ouachita led 35-17 at the half and maintained a 17- to 19-point lead most of the second half before Simsboro’s Lee Abney hit a pair of free throws with a minute remaining in the third quarter and Nick Maryland added a 3-pointer with 35 seconds left in the period to cut the Lions’ advantage to 16 at 49-33 heading into the final stanza.
The closest the Tigers could get from there was 13 points back three different times in the final 1:25.
Jordan Crawford led the Tigers with 13 points while Abney and Brantley added nine each.
Ouachita had four players score in double digits — Rashad Davis with 17 points, Bradford and Bradshaw with 12 each, and Sterry Leonard with 10.
“I think it’s good that we’re disappointed,” Brown said. “We came to the No. 3 team in 5A, we didn’t play particularly well, and we’re disappointed with the loss.
“What we talked about (after the game) is that our goal is to win a championship this year. We’re going to learn from this. Sometimes you learn a lot more losing a game than just rolling through people beating everybody. We’ve got some weaknesses and we’re going to fix them. This doesn’t change what our goals are in the end, and that’s to compete for a championship in Class B. And Ouachita’s not going to be in that Class B bracket.”
But fellow District 2-B school Choudrant will be, and that’s the No. 7 team in Class B that the Tigers will play host to tonight.
“We’ve got to be real careful we don’t have a letdown,” Brown said of tonight’s game against the Aggies. “Choudrant’s got the best team they’ve had in a long time. Coach (Ryan) Smith is doing a really good job with them and those kids, they’re ready to play us. They’ve got shooters, they’re tough, and they’re not scared of us this year.”
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