Ruston uses late rally to get past Jesuit in first-round playoff clash

Ruston uses late rally to get past Jesuit in first-round playoff clash

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Ruston uses late rally to get past Jesuit in first-round playoff clash

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RUSTON

A new year with a new coaching staff in Ruston fails to change one fact about the Ruston boys basketball team: these ‘Cats can still play big when it counts.

No. 12 Ruston overcame a 10-point third-quarter deficit and eventually took the lead with 31 seconds left on a 3-pointer by Chad Holtz on its way to a 42-39 win over No. 21 Jesuit Friday night in Ruston.

Trailing 24-14 at halftime and having scored just 4 points the entire second quarter, the Bearcats knew they had to do something drastic.

The change came on defense, forcing 11 turnovers overall and seven in the second half, and the changes worked to perfection.

“We wanted to speed (Jesuit) up a little bit,” Ruston coach Bakari Beckwith said. “I think that sometimes players can think coaches over-exaggerate how good a team is. Our guys had to see them. And in the first half, we saw how good they are. We had to adjust some things with our 2-3 zone defense and trap them a little bit. I was proud of the way we adjusted.”

The game featured three ties and five lead changes, but the Blue Jays led all the way from the end of the first quarter until Trey Brown of Ruston scored seven straight points to give Ruston a 32-30 lead.

Isiah Buggs then hit two free throws after Jesuit had retaken the lead to cut the deficit to 39-38 with 1:20 to play. After Ruston forced another turnover, Holtz made the shot that would change the complexion of the game. It was his only shot attempt of the game.

“That is his sweet spot (behind the line on the elbow),” Beckwith said. “He has worked really hard to be a shooter, and he came through big for us tonight.”

Buggs led Ruston with 14 points and Trey Brown added 9 points. Trey LeForge led Jesuit with 15 points.

Ruston will now go on the road to face No. 5 L.W. Higgins who beat Northshore 79-42 on Friday.

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