Bearkats’ shot at state final hinges on the glass

BOSSIER IS BACK: Coach Nick Bohanan and the Bossier Bearkats are in the state semifinals again today.

By JOHN JAMES MARSHALL, Journal Sports

At this point in the season, there are no secrets.

Bossier will take on Wossman (Monroe) today at Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles in the Class 3A state boys basketball semifinals. The Bearkats and Wildcats have total familiarity with (1) each other and (2) being in the state tournament atmosphere.

Two years ago, the teams collided in the state finals – the third time they had played that season – with Bossier winning by a point. Though they haven’t met this season, the Bearkats and the Wildcats have seen plenty of each other at tournaments during the regular season.

When the game tips off at 2:30, one thing is for sure.

“We’re not going to surprise them,” Bossier coach Nick Bohanan said. “And they aren’t going to surprise us.”

And because of that, Bohanan doesn’t have to guess what the key is going to be for his team.

“If we keep them off the offensive glass, that will be our best chance to win,” he said. “They are going to attack the offensive glass relentlessly. They get a lot of points from their bigs just cleaning it up (missed shots). If they get more than 10 offensive rebounds, we are in trouble. If we can be tough and block them out and keep them from getting offensive rebounds, I feel like we will have a much better chance of winning.”

Easier said that done. Wossman features burly 6-foot-6 Pat Williams as well as 6-foot-8 junior Kam Coleman.

“They are a strong team,” Bohanan said. “Williams is a force around the basket. (Coleman) is long and lanky and a great shot blocker. He does a great job with timing and getting off the floor quickly.”

Bossier will counter with the inside presence of 6-foot-6 Sedric Applewhite and 6-foot-5 Marquis Harris.

“We can’t go in there soft and thinking we are going to get fouled,” Bohanan said. “I told our players ‘If you aren’t going to dunk it, don’t go in there.’ You know they are going to be tough and physical.”

But it is 6-foot-3 senior Joseph Manning who is the focal point of the Bossier offense.

“As he goes, we go,” Bohanan said. “When he is playing really well, so does our team. We’ve got other guys who contribute, but we will especially need big games out of Marquis and Sedric.”

Both Bossier and Wossman have significant state tournament experience. Though they lost in the quarterfinals last year, the Bearkats won it all in 2020 when they edged Wossman 62-61. The previous year, Bossier reached the finals but lost to Breaux Bridge.

“We know what to expect when we get down there,” Bohanan said. “We won’t be shell shocked.”

This will be the school’s 14th appearance overall – by far the most in Shreveport-Bossier – and the 11th in the last 14 years.

This will be the seventh straight year for Wossman to make to Marsh Madness. The Wildcats lost in the semifinals last year to St. Martinville.

“It’s going to be a war,” Bohanan said. “That’s the kind of mindset you need to have. When we played them before, it always seems like it comes down to the last possession. There’s a lot more on the line and it’s going to be a lot more physical.”

Photo by PRESTON EDWARDS