BOSSIER — North Caddo faced several challenges in Friday night’s semifinals at the Bossier High School Invitational.
The tired Rebels needed to find a way to knock off a talented Bossier squad at home, ideally while saving something for a potential championship appearance against one of Class 5A’s top teams. It wasn’t always pretty, but North Caddo succeeded on all counts in a 46-38 win over the fourth-ranked team in Class 4A.
Coach Ron Meikle could only hope his team’s conditioning would hold up after the Rebels erased a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit and two overtimes to survive a scare from defending Class C champion New Living Word Thursday night. An aggressive full-court press with Bossier’s quick guards provided a significant test in the second half, but North Caddo managed to save its legs on defense in an effective 2-3 zone with 6-foot-8 Robert Williams patrolling the paint.
“That was the key to the game, I thought, in the first half,” Meikle said. “It gave that big guy a chance to rest.”
The game’s first possession featured four offensive rebounds and ended with a Bossier travel after nearly two and a half to set the tone for a slow, ugly opening half. The Bearkats couldn’t match their hot outside shooting from a quarterfinal win over Mansfield and appeared unwilling to attack Williams, perhaps the state’s best shot blocker.
The Rebels finally hit their stride late and a Williams dunk capped off a 10-0 run heading into halftime to give North Caddo an eight-point cushion. Bossier would never get back closer than five, despite eight straight points to close out the third quarter and a 7-0 run in the fourth.
A quiet offensive night for Williams hardly diminished his importance as the key piece defensively and the point man in his team’s inconsistent press break. But the Texas A&M signee’s 12 points gave his capable teammates a chance to contribute more on the scoreboard.
Cherrod Hill stepped up to the challenge with a game-high 19, including 12 in the fourth quarter. The talented junior and sophomore guard Chris Thomas have proven to be the most consistent scorers for North Caddo outside of Williams, though others have had occasional big games.
“If all three of us have a good game, we’re going to win for sure,” Hill said.
That just might be what it takes for the Rebels to avenge a tough loss against Class 5A No. 1 Natchitoches Central in Saturday’s championship at 7:30 p.m. Hill scored 15 to complement Williams’ 21 in a valiant effort at North Caddo last Tuesday, when the Chiefs ended a 62-56 win on a 10-2 run.
Bossier will face Ruston in Saturday’s third-place game set for 6 p.m.
Natchitoches Central pulls away late to beat Ruston
The smallest player on the court came up big when Natchitoches Central needed it most.
Brian White put the Chiefs well on their way to a 45-36 win over Ruston with the first five points of a tiebreaking 9-0 run midway through the fourth quarter. The 5-foot-8 point guard drained a three and hit a tough layup to hold off the Bearcats’ rally efforts in the second semifinal at Bossier High School.
“He was the difference in the fourth quarter,” Natchitoches coach Micah Coleman said. “Not necessarily on the offensive end, but his defensive end in the fourth quarter was much better. Once he really realizes how valuable he is to us defensively, he’s a complete player.”
Austin Guy scored a game-high 17 and Brandon Rachal added nine to knock off their District 2-5A rivals. Ruston erased a five-point halftime lead and could have gone ahead on a point-blank layup in transition, but Coleman said his team did well to never fall behind on the way to its 11th win in the last 12 games.