By WARREN ARCENEAUX, Special to the Journal
LAKE CHARLES — Bossier returned to the big stage Thursday afternoon with its 11th appearance in the boys state championship basketball tournament in the past 14 years.
The nearly annual trip to Marsh Madness didn’t produce the desired results for the Bearkats, but this team will leave a legacy at the school despite its 56-44 Class 3A semifinal loss to Wossman, according to head coach Nick Bohanan.
“I’ve been here 13 years and this is the first group that I could go to bed at night and not have to worry if the guys would be there tomorrow, if they would be in class, if they were going to pass their classes,” he said.
“They are a great group of young men that will go on to be productive members of society, great fathers. You don’t have to worry about them going forward.”
The Bearcats finished the season 27-8, falling in a rematch of the 2020 state championship game Bossier won 62-61.
Wossman (30-6) dominated the first quarter of the game, taking a 14-1 lead after the first eight minutes as the Bearkats missed all 13 shots.
Undaunted, Bossier found a rhythm in the second quarter, outscoring the Wildcats 19-13 to narrow the deficit to seven points.
“I thought we were in good shape,” Bohanan said. “(In) a three-possession game, if we could get a few stops in row, we’d be right back in it. We started playing with energy and effort and got back in the game. De’Marquise Tramiel had not played in the playoffs, but we had foul trouble and put him in. He gave us great minutes and sparked the team in the first half.”
The Bossier surge continued in the second half, culminating with the Bearcats taking a 38-37 lead on a basket by Tahj Roots to start the fourth quarter.
But Wossman responded immediately, mounting a 10-0 run to regain the lead for good. The Wildcats used their size to generate extra possessions with offensive rebounds on one end and to stifle Bossier drives to the lane on the other.
Bohanan said earlier this week that if Wossman got 10 or more offensive boards, the Bearkats “would be in trouble.” It was a precise and accurate forecast.
“We gave them 18 extra possessions with offensive rebounds and it felt like they got an open 3-pointer on every one because we were scrambling,” Bohanan said. “You have to tip your hats to them. They’ve been good for as long as I can remember.”
Standout senior guard Joseph Manning scored 16 points to lead the Bearkats. He said the team kept the faith through its shooting struggles.
“We didn’t get frustrated because we all hold each other accountable,” he said. “We knew we were all going to keep fighting for each other.”
Roots added 10 points for Bossier. He said the scrambling Wossman defense made things hard on the Bearkats.
“On film it looked like there were holes in the defense you could get into,” he said. “But on the court, it was hard. You didn’t have much time to make a decision or you’d turn it over. We had a lot of those.”
Roots vowed to return to Lake Charles to finish the job next season.
“I promised the younger players they would get a ring,” he said. “We’re going to work. We’re going to lift weights, get shots up, practice hard and get back.”
After all, it’s become a Bearkat tradition.
Photo by KIRK MECHE, Lake Charles American Press