Simsboro Tigers earning stripes despite growing pains

Simsboro’s Earnest Chatman goes up for one of two dunks he turned in for the Tigers during Saturday’s game against Rosepine. (Photo by T. Scott Boatright)

By T. Scott Boatright

The Simsboro Tigers overcame a double-digit halftime deficit to put themselves in position to potentially win during a home game against Rosepine Saturday afternoon.

But the Tigers didn’t quite overcome the growing pains they’ve experienced so far this season.

First year Simsboro High School boys basketball coach Randy Carlisle knew he had his work cut out for him rebuilding a Tigers program decimated by senior attrition off of last year’s squad state champions.

The Tigers were put to the test last week with four games, including three played on consecutive days.

Simsboro concluded that run Saturday against Rospine as the Class B Tigers hosted Class 2A Rosepine, which escaped with a 69-62 win.

Early on, the bigger school controlled things early before Simsboro made a move late in the second quarter, with a pair of short jumpers in the key by Jalen Beard pulled the Tigers within four points at 26-22 with 2:09 remaining beore halftime.

But the Eagles countered with an 8-4 run in the final two minutes to go into the locker room at halftime holding a 34-26 lead over the Tigers.

Rosepine came out strong to open the third quarter, building as much as a 12-point advantage at 40-28 and leading 54-43 at the end of the third quarter before the Tigers slowly started scratching and clawing their way back.

It was a 3-pointer by Earnest Chatman with 5:42 remaining that seemed to spark the Tigers as they pulled within six points at 57-52.

Chatman followed that up with a thundering dunk at the 5:15 mark of the final stanza to cut the Eagles’ lead to 57-54.

After Rosepine pushed its lead up to six points at 61-55, Chatman again provided the spark, nailing a turnaround jumper in the key with 3:17 left on the clock before leaving the game seconds later after turning an ankle.

Trumarion Smith’s short jumper with 2:34 remaining pulled the Tigers’ within two points at 61-59, but Rosepine responded with an easy layup to move back up by four before Chatman returned to the floor for the Tigers with 1:57 remaining.

Chatman added a 3-pointer he banked off the glass with 1:01 left on the clock, cutting the Eagles’ advantage to 67-62 and sealed things away with the only points scored in the final minute with a pair of free throws with 21 seconds remaining.

It was only Chatman’s fourth game with the Tigers after becoming eligible starting with last week’s game against Choudrant.

“We’re still trying to work him in and help him learn the system,” Carlisle said. “He rolled that ankle but came right back. He’s tough and gritty, and if he stays focused he’s only going to get better and better.

“None of these guys had much playing experience at all.I knew it was going to be like this when I came here. We’ve come a long way since the start of the season. Rospine is a really good team. We just have to remember to run a system and take easy shots and not just force things up there. It gets out of hand sometimes when we take bad shots.” 

Chatman led the Tigers with 22 points against the Eagles while Kaelip Wright added 13, Smith chipped in with 10 and Jalen Outley hit for 10.

Simsboro, now 8-17 overall and 1-1 in District 2-B, will next play at Downsville Charter on Tuesday.