Bond not thrilled despite Bearcats victory

By T. Scott Boatright

Sometimes there’s not much satisfaction in a victory. Not when a coach feels his team has special potential but didn’t show it despite picking up a win.

And that’s the way Ruston High School Bearcats coach Ryan Bond said he felt after watching his team take a 57-37 win over Pineville Tuesday night at the RHS Main Gym.

A strong performance in the final two minutes of the first quarter propelled the Bearcats to a 15-7 lead by the end of the stanza. And they pushed that advantage to 12 points at 29-17 at halftime.

But Bond still wasn’t happy with the way the Bearcats performed, starting at the top with himself.

“I’m not happy with the first half, the second half — any of it. And that includes me,” Bond said. “I’ve got to do a better job. I get asked a lot why we play so many road games? I like road games. I just have to get on the bus and go. At home games, there are more distractions, there’s more responsibilities that I have to take on as a coach, and sometimes I’m not quite as focused or tuned in as I need to be with the guys. 

“That wasn’t the kind of performance I was expecting. We get Dillon Wilson back from illness — he’s our engine and makes us go — it just wasn’t what we needed it to be. Pineville is a good team. They’ve improved a lot over the past couple of years. But we didn’t play the way we wanted to play. The way we needed to.”

For Bond, it was about watching his Bearcats lose focus at a key point in the season, even if they still picked up the 20-point win to move to 19-4 overall and 5-1 in District 2-5A.

Ruston entered the game ranked No. 9 in’s Class 5A power ratings, but the Bearcats will next play host to No. 3 Ouachita, which stands at 18-6 but also lost 49-48 at home to Ruston on Jan. 14.

And that’s part of the reason Bond wasn’t happy with his team’s performance despite getting the win.

“I thought if we just kept playing the focus would improve,” Bond said. “But I think we lost focus, and it was different guys at different times. It was a lot of different individual breakdown, and it only takes one of those to turn a game the other direction. Then somebody else has to pick up for that guy, and they’re going to try and do too much and they’re going to break down. 

“They mess up on the defensive end and try to force something on the offensive end. Or they think, ‘I’ve done well on the offensive end, so I’m going to relax and take this play off on defense. I’ve been stressing, stressing and stressing it — we  cannot have that. Yeah, we won at Ouachita. But they come here Friday and if we play like we did tonight, they’re going to get us. They’re going to come in with a lot of intensity and a lot of pride, and tonight wasn’t the way we needed to get ready for that. Careless turnovers, missed assignments … we’ll get blown out Friday night if we play like that again.”

Pineville cut the RHS led down to eight points in the third quarter but the Bearcats stretched the advantage back out to double digits. Still, for Bond, the attitude and focus just wasn’t there.

“It can’t only be me that’s frustrated,” Bond said. “I need a senior to step up and say, ‘Hey guys, let’s go! Let’s pick this up!’ It doesn’t even have to be a senior. Just anybody but me. It’s always the coach that gets the blame. But instead of pointing fingers and saying ‘so and so told me to do this,’ or ‘that was his fault,’ I need them to look at themselves. I do that all the time as a coach. I watch film — hours and hours of film — asking what am I doing wrong?’ And I do that. And as players, they have to, too.”

Joran Parker led Ruston with 12 points while Aidan Anding added 11 and Braylan McNeal hit for 10.

But it still wasn’t enough for Bond, who said the reason he feels that way is because he feels that strongly about his Bearcats’ potential.

“I’m proud of the position we’re in,” Bond said. “That’s why I demand for them to put out maximum effort because I know what they’re capable of and can do. We went on the road at (Alexandria) without our senior point guard and another guy coming off sickness, and we played within two possessions with a couple of minutes to go. That’s our only district loss, against the No. 2 team in the state on the road.

“We had 20 turnovers and 25% shooting and we were right there with the No. 2 team in the state. I know what this team can do. We’ve got potential to add to these old (state championship) banners (hanging in the RHS Main Gym). But we’re not going to do it playing like we did tonight, even with the win.”

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