One and done! That was the summation of every local high school boys basketball teams fortunes in the 2020-21 LHSAA playoffs – except for one. Quitman High is the only one left after the games of February 26th, which in relation to the first round of playoff games gave a new definition to the phrase “Black Friday.” It was dark days indeed for Jonesboro-Hodge, Weston and Saline. The loss by the Tigers and Bobcats were surprising to say the least as both were upset on their home floor by lower seeds. Weston simply fell to a stronger team.
The results were a little better for schools that are in the Jackson Parish Journal “extended” coverage area, but not by much. Ruston, Winnfield, Dodson and Cedar Creek all took it on the chin with only Lincoln Prep and Choudrant surviving the first round. They will now join Calvin, Arcadia and Simsboro, who had first round byes, in the regional round that is slated to be played no later than Tuesday, March 2nd.
Quitman survives Dodson to advance to 2nd round
Some thought that #11 Quitman would have an easy time with #22 Dodson. After all the Wolverines had thoroughly thumped the Panthers 81-54 just a little over a month ago. What’s more Dodson, who ends the year with an 8-11 record had won only two of their final six games while the Wolverines, now 17-6, had won 11 of 12 games other than the two expected district 2B losses to Simsboro. Those people don’t know about playoff basketball.
This time of year is a whole new world. This is do or die time as there is no tommorrow for the loser. The intensity of the battle is usually ramped beyond imagination especially toward the end of a game when the desperation of watching your season on the brink of ending sets in. There is only one goal. Survive and advance!
That is what Quitman did against Dodson who proved early on that this time the going would much tougher. Behind six points from Xaiden Hall and three pointer’s from both Caleb Barton and Quinton Edwards the Panthers grabbed a 14-11 lead after one. In the second Quitman buckled down on defense to hold Dodson to just three Beau Carter points and rode a pair of trey’s by freshman Logan Ponder and another from Cooper Williams to take a 24-17 lead into the break.
In the third it looked like Quitman was on the verge of breaking the game open. Blake Carter, Ethan Everett, Joshua Smith and Williams all tallied to offset a pair of trey’s by Barton as the Wolverines took a 37-27 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Desperate to make up the deficit Barton, Carter and Hall started bombing away while defensively started fouling forcing Quitman to the line. Smith, Everett and Williams were undaunted though as three combined to make 7 of 10 from the stripe to keep Dodson at bay.
Smith led the Wolverines with 19 followed by Williams with 12. Everett added 8, Carter 7, Ponder 6 and Pabaya 2. Dodson was led by Barton, who on the strength of five trey’s had 18. Carter finished with 14, Hall had 12 and Edwards three. Quitman will now become the first team all year north of Alexandria to play #6 Fairview, who received a first round bye.
Tigers late rally falls short
Jonesboro-Hodge had a 40-37 advantage over the final three quarters but the failure to make a single basket in the first eight minutes proved to be too much to overcome. As result #18 Avoyelles left with a 49-42 victory in the opening round of the Class 2A playoffs. With the loss the #15 seeded Tigers ends the season with an 8-6 record while Avoyelles, who improved to 14-12 advances to play #2 Port Barre in the regionals.
The effort was there. Sadly, the execution wasn’t. Not only in the early goings but more devastating, late in the game. Down 27-16 at the half, J-H began a stirring rally that saw Tigers pull to within 42-39 with 5:39 remaining. and had Avoyelles horribly reeling offensively and ripe for the taking. Four straight possessions saw J-H have a shot at tying the contest but only managed to make a Cameron Joe free throw.
Avoyelles finally scored their first points of the fourth quarter with 2:28 to go to take a 44-40 lead that was stretched to 47-42 with 1:10 to go. Two more missed trey’s by the Tigers forced them to put Avoyelles on the line for one and one opportunities three times in twenty seconds. They missed all three of the front end shots but each time got it right back, once on rebounding the missed shot and twice more on J-H turnovers that sealed the Tigers fate.
Both teams shot atrociously from the field during the game as each made under 30% of their shots. From the line the Tigers were only 11 of 21 for just over a 50% average while Avoyelles was even worse making only 32% of their charity shots after a 10 of 31 effort.
A silver lining to the contest was the strong play of underclassman Cameron Joe, who along with junior, Justin Calahan paced the Tigers in scoring with 13 each and provided the fuel for the second half rally. No other J-H player scored more than four, which was accomplished by both Javion Andrews and Devonte’ Mozee, who will also return next year along with four more who played extensive minutes in the contest giving the Tigers a good nucleus to build on.
Weston overmatched in loss to Negreet
The contest allowed both teams tp reach the “20” mark on the season but how it is applied proves the disparity between the two almost as much as the score did. Negreet’s convincing 72-54 victory improved their record to 20-11 and set up a regional round matchup against Pitkin. Meanwhile the loss eliminated Weston from the playoffs and saddled the Wolves with their 20th loss of the year, something that hasn’t taken place in over a decade.
It was just one of those methodical whippings that take place when one team is simply better than the other. Weston showed plenty of grit and determination but just simply didn’t have the firepower to compete. As result a 19-10 Weston disadvantage at the end of one became a 37-22 Negreet lead at the break that basically sealed the outcome.
Jace Holt led Weston in scoring with 18 followed by Davis Tolar with 10. Braden Theriot added 7 and both Cooper Harvey and Eli McBride scored all six of their points in the final quarter. Kaden Shirley had 3, Tate Henderson 2 and Landon Roberts finished with his first quarter free throw. Kobe Goss led Negreet with 25.
Stanley’s second half surge sinks Saline
With their 68-64 upset victory, #23 seed Stanley High earned the distinction of being the highest seed advance in the state tourney in the contest that was a tale of two halves. All was going well for #10 Saline after two quarters of play. The Bobcat’s two top guns, Ethan Roberts and Titus Malone, were having their way to the tune of 16 and 10 points respectively to helped Saline to what seemed to be a commanding 37-27 lead.
In the second half two things happened. Stanley started to control the glass, especially on the offensive end and the referees started blowing their whistle seemingly on every possession. The result was that Stanley made several, second and even third chance, baskets and the Panthers made 15 of 26 free throws to just five for Saline that dramatically changed the course of the game that ended with Saline seeing their season end with an 8-9 record and Stanley (11-13) advancing to the regional round to play Zwolle. Roberts finished with 29 points for Saline while Malone added 16 and Titus Jackson 13. Jacob Jones and Blake Clifton had three points apiece.
Boxscores for each of the games involving local schools
|#11 Quitman (17-6)||11||13||13||15||52|
|#22 Dodson (8-11)||14||3||10||20||47|
QHS scoring: Smith 19, Williams 12, Everett 8, Carter 7, Ponder 6, Pabaya 2
DHS scoring: Barton 18, Carter 14, Hall 12, Edwards
|#15 JHHS (8-6)||2||14||19||7||42|
|#18 Avoyelles (14-12)||12||15||15||7||49|
JHHS scoring: Joe 13, Calahan 13, Andrews 4, Mozee 4, Tew 2, Kary 2, McGuire 2, Malone 1, Nichols 1
AHS scoring: Wright 14, Francisco 12, Bibbins 11, Smith 7, Jones 3, James 2
|#9 Negreet (20-11)||19||18||17||18||72|
|#24 Weston (9-20)||10||12||13||19||54|
NHS scoring; Goss 25, Byles 13, Glynn 12, Lehp 8, Tarpley 8, Rogers 4, Holmes 1
WHS scoring; Holt 18, Tolar 10, Theriot 7, McBride 6, Harvey 6, Shirley 3, Henderson 2, Roberts 1
|#10 Saline (8-9)||17||20||13||14||64|
|#23 Stanley (11-13)||9||18||20||21||68|
Saline scoring; Roberts 29, Malone 16, Jackson 13, Clifton 3, Jones 3
Stanley scoring; Williams 17, Pinkey 14, Rogers 13, Collins 8, Maxie 8, Loftin 8