Bearcats basketball team ready to bounce toward future

Junior Lonnie Dimmer finished with 16 points in the semifinal matchup (Photo credit: Reggie McLeroy)

By T. Scott Boatright

LAKE CHARLES – Less than 20 minutes after his Bearcats fell to Ponchtoula in semifinals action of the Division I Nonselect School Boys state basketball tournament, Ryan Bond was already focused on one thing and one thing only – the future.

“We’ve got to let this loss motivate us, but Ruston High School is going to be a program that’s going to work,” Bond said. “I’m going to work. It’s a good group of kids, it’s a great place to be, Ruston High.”

“When you’re 29-4 and come up a little short, I mean everybody wants that trophy. I couldn’t be prouder of my kids. I couldn’t be prouder of my assistant coaches. The accolades and the thanks – the positive things, there’s just not enough positive things to say.”

And with only one player departing in senior Braylan McNeal, and what he calls a strong group of players moving up from Ruston Junior High School next year, Bond also feels positive about his team’s future.

“The kids that are returning know what it takes – I think they do,” Bond said. “I know that I need to improve on as a coach and that’s what I’m going to keep working for. But I’m just so proud of the kids, I’m so proud of the community, I’m so proud of the administration. Ruston High School is on the map. We’ve got a tremendous junior high program. I love our junior high coaches – they do a great job with them and we’ve got some great kids coming into our program next year that are going to help.”

Bond said that while his team felt the sting of the loss to Ponchtoula, he’s positive they’ll bounce back.

“They’re emotional, but they’re resilient,” Bond said. “They can have a bad day at practice and bounce back. We had a bad practice against Barbe (Ruston’s quarterfinals opponent) and came back and played great. 

“After that, Zheric Hill was saying they’ve got to use this bounce back. They’re using tonight for next season already.”

RHS junior Lonnie Dimmer, who finished with 16 points against Ponchtoula, said he knew it was one thing and one thing only that held the Bearcats out of a title game berth this season.

“I feel like we fell short on offensive rebounds,” Dimmer said. “We weren’t boxing out like we usually do out there. But we’ll be back next year.”

Bond said he believes that seeing the RHS football team fall in last fall’s state title game will help his team rebound.

“They should be able to do that. I hope they do,” Bond said. “We’ve got next week off and then we’ll move into the offseason and have our meetings and hit the weight room and just keep going.”

Bond said he saw signs of exactly that intent in the locker room after the game.

“We’ve had some ups and downs as every program does,” Bond said. “But we had some players speak up in the locker room after the game and they talked about those ups and downs and being focused – focus is our buzzword that we’re going to keep saying.

“We should be focused on basketball. There’s a finite period of time that you can play the game. It seems like yesterday that I was running around the court in high school, but I’m old now. But the kids – they’re great kids. And they’ll be back. They’re already ready to get after it.”