Bossier’s defense turned back the clock to its glory days in an impressive performance at Byrd Friday night.
The Bearcats’ relentless fullcourt pressure got to the Yellow Jackets early and rarely let up in a sloppy, fast-paced game whose outcome was never really in question after Bossier’s early burst. Its guards dribbled out some clock in the second half to cruise to a 48-30 win, 25 points below Byrd’s previous season-low.
“It always starts and finishes on the defensive end,” veteran coach Jeremiah Williams said. “Everything we do is predicated on defense and the teams that we’ve had in the past have been like that and hopefully this team has started to develop to be that kind of thing as well.”
A pair of quick turnovers and early transition buckets followed Tyrese English’s 3-pointer to give the Bearcats a 7-0 lead less than 80 seconds after the opening tip. Even though Byrd would score the next five points with the help of its only 3-pointer on the night by Jamal Hill before a key 11-2 Bossier run, the Yellow Jackets never seemed to get comfortable.
Tight man-to-man defense with frequent traps left no safe places on the court for Byrd to dribble, and few shots went uncontested. Even the rare times the Yellow Jackets got an open look near the basket, they often rushed into their shots as if expecting a defender to be there to make a play.
Both teams enjoy playing an uptempo style and take advantage of solid depth to keep everyone fresh, sometimes with 5-for-5 substitutions. But other than junior Phillip Stewart, who created turnovers and looked confident driving to the basket on his way to a team-high 12 points, Byrd’s guards couldn’t stay as composed and in control with the ball in their hands as their Bossier counterparts.
“(We were) trapping all over the floor, making it kind of nasty,” Bearcats senior guard Larry Robinson said. “Just trying to play aggressive and get steals and easy buckets.”
That strategy worked to provide somewhat of a spark to a struggling offense, which averages barely 54 points per game. The Bearcats took a 28-14 lead into halftime with the help of two 3-pointers from Robinson, their best pure shooter.
He went on to score 14 points as Bossier made just four field goals in the second half, though the Yellow Jackets never got the lead back to single digits. Neither team played a particularly efficient offensive game, and Byrd’s frustrations appeared to be running high both on the court and on the sideline.
Williams liked some of the progress he saw on the interior, as Antonio Davis and Dontaveous Washington combined for 10 points while winning the physical battle against their smaller opponents. The two big men run the court well for their size, something they may need to do more if Bossier continues to thrive in a fast, uptempo style.
This win will certainly encourage more of the same, considering how thoroughly the Bearcats beat the Yellow Jackets at their own game. It doesn’t happen often for Byrd, especially at home, as Bossier knows far too well.
“We haven’t beat them (at Byrd) in four years, so this win is real big for us,” Robinson said. “We’ve got to take every game serious, but this one is really special.”