For Ryan Bond, being in rarified air is nothing new. After all, when you stand a towering, 6’10” tall the view is very different than for most people. While Bond is used to standing above the masses, the boys basketball program at Ruston High School isn’t. Or maybe that should be written as “wasn’t,” as now they are, after claiming the district 2-5A title and currently sitting on the lofty perch of the #3 ranked team in Class 5A.
It certainly isn’t a place that the Bearcats regularly see. It was just three years ago, Bond’s first at the helm, that the Bearcats were 9-20. Last year they opened the season with 13 straight victories on their way to an 16-7 record. The 2021-22 regular season resulted in another giant leap of a 24-4 record that included a 9-1 mark in 2-5A and only one loss in their last twenty contests.
To help Ruston ascend as quickly as they have done to the rare heights as champion of 2-5A, one might consider Bond as being some kind of Svengali, able to exhort some sort of mesmerizing effect. To put it into perspective, the last time they even had a winning record was 2016. It was way back in 2007 when Ruston last won a district title. What he has done in such short time can truly be considered magical.
Bond will have no part of that kind of talk and refuses to accept any accolades for his team’s success. Yet his coaching history proves that he indeed makes a difference as the head coach of a team. This isn’t a “new book” that is being written but simply “another chapter” in what could be entitled as his “Family Plan” that has led to 289 wins and now, eight district titles over a very successful 13-year career.
“All the credit should go to our players. They are a unique group of guys who genuinely like each other, believe in each other and has become a family,” said Bond. “They have worked hard from the first day I came on board and are really motivated to get better every day. I am really happy for them to be able to see their effort have success.”
The pattern of Bond taking teams to great heights is nothing new as well. In 2009, his very first year as a varsity coach, Bond led the girls team from his alma mater, Weston High, to a 35-6 record and a district title. The next year brought another district championship, which led him to take over the boys program.
Just like at Ruston, it took a little while for his “family plan” to take effect but in his third year at the helm Weston soared to a 30-8 record and the first of four straight district 1B titles. Two years later Weston qualified for the state tournament for the first time in school history.
Now Bond has Ruston eyeing the state tournament for the first time since 1988. That was when the Bearcats won the state championship for the fourth time in school history. The other three titles came in 1956, 1961 and 1962.
“We have had a great season so far and are happy to win district, but we are far from satisfied and feel there is still work to be done,” reflected Bond on the road ahead. “I told the guys we have five games left to go before we can say we have really accomplished what we want to.”
By virtue of their outstanding regular season the Bearcats are in prime position to advance to Barton Coliseum in Lake Charles, where the state tournament will be held March 7-12. As the #3 seed, Ruston will first host #30 Dutchtown at 6:00pm on Friday, February 25th. A victory there allows them to play the winner of #14 East Ascension and #19 Hanville.
Then if the bracket seedings hold true a matchup against #6 Captain Shreve of Shreveport will take place in the quarterfinals for the right to qualify for the final four of “Marsh Madness. A semi-final contest would have them matched up against district 2-5A foe and #2 seed Alexandria Sr. High with the winner playing for the Class 5A state championship.
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