Fifth-seeded Lady Bearcats to host Woodlawn-BR

By T. Scott Boatright


The Ruston Lady Bearcats received their marching orders as the Louisiana High School Athletics Association released its 2022 girls basketball playoff brackets Monday afternoon.

And was already a given, the Lady ‘Cats will open postseason play on their own court.

Ruston, which stands at 25-6 overall and went undefeated in District 2-5A play, is the No. 5 seed in Class 5A and will open the playoffs at 6 p.m. Thursday by playing host to 28th-seeded Woodlawn of Baton Rouge.

Woodlawn stands at 22-11 on the season.

Tickets to the contest will cost $8 and will be available only at the door to the gymnasium on Thursday night.

RHS coach Meredith Graf didn’t get a chance to start really looking at the Bearcats’ upcoming opponent until Monday night.

“I started collecting some information on Sunday, but you never really know for sure until the brackets are released. I’ve seen some surprises before. We (high school coaches) have a job to do at school, so it’s not like we can start breaking it all down the second the brackets are released,” said Graf, who teaches PE at RHS. “I had class, and then we had practice, then I got home, ate a little and sat down to start watching.  So it all doesn’t happen right away.”

So Graf is still trying to learn about Woodlawn while preparing for a regular school day today.

“I do know from what I’ve heard from other coaches and the little film that I have watched I think they play a lot of different players,” Graf said. “So we know they’re deep.”

Good thing for the Bearcats is they’re deep, too. In a win over Pineville on Feb. 2, 13 of the 14 Lady Bearcats added to their scoring total.

“All season long we’ve done a good job of spreading the ball around,” said Graf. “We don’t have only one, or two, or even three girls taking over for us offensively. We have at least four or five who might step up and lead us in scoring on a given night. 

“And I think that’s part of what makes this team so special. They’re tight. They’re close and love playing together. They know each other and what it takes to try and win.” 

While Graf feels good about her team’s offense, she feels even better about her defense, which held Pineville to nine total points during that 57-9 RHS on Feb. 1. The Lady Bearcats outscored the Lady Rebels 22-0 in the first quarter of that contest.

“Defense is what we’re all about,” Graf said. “It’s the foundation for this team. We feel that if we can hold our opponent under 40 points, we’ve got a pretty good chance. And we’ve been able to do that quite a bit this season.”

In fact, that’s something the Lady Bearcats have done 16 times on the season.

Graf said she and her Bearcats will learn more about Woodlawn before Thursday’s game, but preparation will still largely boil down to basics.

“We are going to respect and prepare for Woodlawn just like we have for everyone this year,”  Graf said. “Our process doesn’t change because it is the playoffs. Woodlawn has some height and they play very hard.

“It is survive and advance mode, we will not look ahead but treat each game with the respect it deserves. I’m just Excited for my kids to get the opportunity to compete.”

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