A pair of defending state champions in the LHSAA’s highest two classifications got together in the Bossier gym Tuesday night with the defending Class 4A champion Bearkats topping defending Class 5A champ Natchitoches Central 48-35.
The win for Bossier (19-4) allowed coach Jeremiah Williams’ club to even the season series with the Chiefs (16-4). NCHS won 56-51 in Natchitoches in November.
“Coach (Micah) Coleman and I scheduled this game to give our teams a good test going into district play,” Williams said. “This time we were able to come out on top but our hat’s off to Natchitoches Central for the way they played. Anytime you can beat a great championship team like them, it’s good.”
There were multiple times Tuesday night when neither team looked championship caliber. Part of that was due to some outstanding defense and some of it was due to erratic shooting.
“That’s why we came up here – to get ready for the type of teams we’ll see in our district (2-5A),” said Coleman, who has lost consecutive games to District 1-4A members.”
The Bearkats started off the game up 5-0 when the Chiefs, who lost to Huntington last week in the Bossier tournament, went more than six minutes before converting their first bucket, a 10-footer by LSU-signee Brandon Rachal. NCHS then reeled off a 14-0 run as the Bearkats went 8 minutes scoreless before Tyron Leno nailed a 3-pointer. That sparked an 11-0 Bossier run that erased a 14-5 deficit and left the game tied at 16 at the break. The Chiefs scored the last bucket of the half following their own 5-minute drought.
Bossier was playing without the services of freshman D’ante Bell, who injured his arm against Southwood Monday night. Also, Chris Davenport did not start the game for the Bearkats, but ended up being the only double-digit scorer in the contest with 13. Tyrese English added 9, Tybrien Wimberly 8 and Kaalas Roots 7 for Bossier.
Rachal, perhaps the state’s best player, could never get untracked offensively against the over-playing Bossier defense. He scored just 8 points on the night, but the senior made his presence felt elsewhere, pulling down double-digit rebounds, blocking or altering several shots and coming up with a handful of steals.
“This game was perfect for us,” Coleman said. “It was physical, against a lot of talent with the type officiating we’ll see in district. The outcome really doesn’t matter. But it also exposed a lot of things we need to correct before next week.”
Brian White and C.J. Carpenter topped the Chiefs with 9 points apiece.