Dialing up a 31-seed that was better than its spot in the LHSAA ratings, the Bossier Bearkats needed all the Devonte Hall it could get to escape De La Salle 57-53 on Friday night in the opening round of the Class 3A playoffs.
The Bearkats (24-7) managed a 9-point lead on their home court in the fourth quarter only to see the Cavaliers claw their way back to 55-53 on a 3-pointer by Luke Kelly with 20 seconds remaining. But Hall hit a pair of free throws with 12 seconds left, then the senior plucked a steal on De La Salle’s final trip down the court to seal the contest.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game because they didn’t get here for nothing,” Hall said. “It’s not just a ‘me’ game, but I told the team I’d pick up my play in the second half. When I play better it opens things up for them.”
Bossier will host a second-round contest at 7 p.m. on Tuesday against Parkview Baptist, an 84-63 winner against Rayville on Tuesday.
De La Salle coach Paul Kelly, whose team finished 20-9, spent a long time in the locker room talking with his players that included four seniors, but four freshmen in the starting lineup.
“We’re a pretty good ball club, but all the credit should go to Bossier because they made a few more plays than we did down the stretch,” Kelly said. “We competed as hard as we could and I think we represented De La Salle well, which is all you can ask.”
Bossier coach Jeremiah Williams saw his team get off to a rocky start, only to rebound with a solid second half behind Hall’s 27 points, Kentrell Hardy’s 14 and Darius Leary’s 11. Leary converted a three-point play with less than 30 seconds remaining to help keep the Cavaliers at bay.
“They did a good job slowing down our offense with their 2-1-1 zone that hurt our dribble drives,” Williams said. “Mentally, we didn’t play as well as we should have, but hats off to De La Salle, they came to play. Fortunately, we were able to weather the storm.
Even though he wasn’t in the starting lineup, Kelly led the visitors with 21 points, although he got off to a sluggish start from behind the arc. His play late kept the Bearkats from pulling away.
“This was a bitter pill for our seniors, but the foundation is established for our future,” said Paul Kelly. “Luke didn’t get it going early, but I’m proud of the way we competed.”
The first half floated back and forth although the Cavs managed a 15-11 lead at the end of the first quarter thanks to making all but one bucket in the lane. Bossier took charge in the second, winning that frame 13-8, after Hardy posted 7 points, including a 3-pointer that banked off the backboard. It was Hall’s turn to lead in the second half.
“Devonte is the only guy we have playing who’s been there before and he is expected to lead our team,” Williams said. “When we need a basket, he has to go get it.”