JHHS and Saline advance, Quitman and Weston eliminated in first round of playoffs

This past Tuesday, four area schools in the Jackson Parish Journal coverage area started on the journey that they hoped would end in Lake Charles where the LHSAA boys basketball state tournament will be played. Two continue. District 1-2A runner-up, Jonesboro-Hodge and Saline, who finished in second place of district 1B, won their opening games of “Marsh Madness” while district 2B representatives, Quitman and Weston, were ousted.

LHSAA Boys Playoffs – Round One

JHHS 49 Welsh 46

WHEW!!!! That was the collective response from the fans in attendance after the Tigers made a late run to push past the upset minded, #24 seed from South Louisiana and avoid what looked like was going to be a demoralizing first round loss.

To say the contest was ugly is an understatement. Especially the play in the second half when both squads made numerous mistakes and were unable to score for long periods of time. A perfect example is what the score was following the half and by the end of the third quarter. At the half the two teams were tied 32-32. When the fourth quarter started the score was 36-35 in favor of Welsh. That is seven total points scored by both teams in eight minutes of play. 

SAY WHAT?

That is no misprint. The two teams combined to score only seven points in eight minutes of play. The teams must have slowed the pace and held the ball like in the days of the “stall” offense, right? Hardly! Both were playing at breakneck, fastbreak speed, hardly ever taking the time to even set up a play. Time and again shots “clanged iron” no matter where they came from. It was especially frustrating for the Tigers, who had a decisive height advantage and would often get multiple chances from underneath on a possession after dominating the glass to get second, third and sometimes four, point blank chances.

The offensive production wasn’t much better in the fourth period either as both teams continued to struggle with their shots. Then Welsh hit JHHS with a “gut punch” that raised a lump in the Tiger fans throat. With just a little over three minutes to play JHHS was trailing 41-40 when Welsh connected on a three-point shot and the Tigers committed a foul, which led to a made free throw. The rare, four-point possession upped the lead to 45-40, which seemed almost insurmountable at the time given the way JHHS was shooting.

With the way the Tigers were struggling to score the reality that JHHS may be going down was thrust forefront into the minds of the home faithful. To the Tigers credit they responded with steely resolve. Through a tenacious, ball-hawking, defensive effort JHHS fought back to take a 47-46 lead. Then with 27 seconds left and JH with the ball, Welsh fouled Ajay Tew.

MISTAKE!

It had been a hard night for Tew, who before making a three pointer earlier in the fourth quarter had struggled from the field, making only one free throw. On the line is where the Tiger’s top marksman does his best work though. With the crowd screaming at a fever pitch, Tew stepped up and calmly sank both charity shots to up the lead to three. which the Tigers made stand up.

NEXT UP! Waiting for the second-round matchup is #8 Oakdale. This is the same school that JHHS unceremoniously dumped in the first round of the football playoffs and who will be certainly looking for revenge. Another performance like in the first round will be a death noll but perhaps the “gut check” is just what the Tigers needed to get them in playoff mode. Game time is set for 6:00 pm in Oakdale.

#9 JHHS (18-7) 13 19 3 14 49
#24 Welsh (13-16) 12 20 4 10 46
(JHHS scoring) Malone 13, Mozee 9, Joe 7, Tew 6, Gray 6, Phillips 5, Calahan 3 (Welsh scoring) Hebert 11, Janise 11, Pattum 7, Soulaire 3, Benard 2, Achane 2, Williams 2

Saline 65 Converse 57 

After starting the season by losing their first four games, Saline has been working feverously to get back to the .500 mark. Since the non-district schedule included two schools from Class 5A and Class 3A, three schools in Class AA and four games against Class A schools, it has been a hard struggle. That’s not to mention that they also played the top ranked teams in Class B & C twice and the team they finished second to in district 1B (Doyline) finished the year with a 28-2 record. It has been a “long row to hoe” but after 35 games the Bobcats are now just one win away from achieving the goal.

Don’t let the 17-18 overall record fool you. This 2021-22 edition of Bobcats is a good team that is battle tested and pose a dangerous threat to anyone they play. The LHSAA playoff rating committee agreed when they gave Saline a lofty #9 seeding, the only team in the top ten with a losing record.  they were 

The Bobcats climbed as close to .500 as they all year this past Tuesday when they dispatched a gutty Converse team in the opening round of the LHSAA Class B playoffs but it wasn’t easy. Saline was expected to win. After all, Converse entered the first-round contest with only a 11-23 record and #24 seeding. Robinson knew though that if his team didn’t give a maximum effort the visitors would present a strong challenge. He told his team so but over the first half it looked like they really didn’t believe it. When the horn sounded for the first half break a lackadaisical defensive effort found Saline trailing by a 29-28 margin. It was a different Saline team that took the floor in the second half though.

The players were the same, but the effort and intensity skyrocketed in the third quarter. The result was a 21-8 advantage in the period that gave the Bobcats the commanding lead they were expected to have. What brought about the change? 

“I just told the guys that I was disappointed in their effort,” deadpanned Robinson after the game. “To their credit they came out and played the second half like they wanted to keep playing this year.”

That was especially true of Saline’s top two guns, Titus Malone and Ethan Roberts. The pair was virtually unstoppable, as they stepped up to score all but two of the Bobcats 31 second half points and finish with 26 and 22 points respectively. 

Next Up! The victory advanced the Bobcats to the second round for the first time since 2018 where a trip to south Louisiana is in store for a Tuesday contest against district 8B champion and #8 seed Holden (16-12), who received a first-round bye. Game time is set for 6:00pm. 

#9 Saline (17-18) 14 14 21 16 65
#24 Converse (11-24) 12 17 8 25 57
(Saline scoring) Malone 26, Roberts 22, Jackson 8, Brown 4, Staggs 2 (Converse scoring) n/a

Negreet 64 Quitman 62

For the entire first half and for three of the four quarters of the game, home standing Quitman outdueled their visitors. Unfortunately, the one quarter that Negreet won, they won big. The result was that after taking a 28-21 lead into the half, the Wolverines found themselves trailing 41-38 after three quarters and despite a frantic final quarter effort saw their season come to a close in the first round of the Class B playoffs. 

 A look at the scorebook shows that a key factor in the game was Negreet’s ability to convert clutch free throws down the stretch. Playing with gritty resolve Quitman kept right firing at the Indians only to see Negreet keep the Wolverines at bay by converting 9 of 13 fourth quarter free throw attempts. Conversely, despite scoring 24 points in the final frame, the Wolverines made only 5 of their 10 attempts in the fourth quarter and just 11 of 21 in the contest. 

After two periods of play it looked like it would be the Wolverines advancing as L D Manning led the way to a seemingly comfortable 28-21 halftime lead with 14 of his team high 25 points. Ty Simonelli also came up big in the early goings with eight of his ten points. 

Then came the third quarter which was what was perhaps the dooming blow to Quitman’s hopes as the Wolverines were able to make only four field goals and score ten points. Were it not for the effort of Blake Carter, who accounted for six points and three of the four baskets it would have been much worse as the rest of the team combined for only one basket and two free throws.

With the loss the 15th seeded Wolverines end the 2021-22 campaign with 15-19 record. Negreet improved 16-23 and will now hit the road again to take on second ranked Anacoco. 

#15 Quitman (15-19) 12 16 10 24 62
#18 Negreet (16-23) 10 11 20 23 64
(Quitman scoring) Manning 25, Ponder 12, Simonelli 10, Carter 8, Walker 3, Morgan 2, Pabaya 2 (Negreet scoring) Homes 25, N. Byles 20, Dye 10, Smith 8, L. Byles 3

Singer 77 Weston 62

The first and second halves were almost carbon copies of each other for #20 seed Weston in their first round Class B playoff contest against home standing and 13th seeded Singer. Breaking it down even further the first and third quarters as well as the second and fourth quarters were almost identical for the Wolves. If only the odd numbered quarters didn’t count….

In the even numbered quarters the Wolves were dominant, outscoring the team that finished behind Class B powers Anacoco and Fairview in the district 5B standings by a 52-44 margin. Sadly though, basketball is a four-quarter game and just as good as Weston was in the second and fourth frame the Wolves were just as bad in the first and third. 

It could be said after all was said and done that the game was over really before it had got started good. That is because it seemed that the home team forgot to take the lid off the Weston goal as all the Wolves could muster in the first frame was a Davis Tolar basket and two free throws from Eli McBride. Meanwhile it seemed the home team couldn’t miss as they raced out to a 20-4 lead. 

To the Wolves credit they fought gamely and by virtue of Bryce Zehr’s three treys and 11 points as well as six points each by Tolar and Seth Peterson and four from Mitchel Mathews they narrowed the margin to 43-30 at the half. 

What was already an uphill battle turned futile in the third period as just like in the first frame the Wolves couldn’t buy a basket in the third. Actually, they did get one by Zehr.  That, along with the four free throws made by Mathews was all that was scored though and added to the 13 points that Singer scored the twenty-point hill that had to be climbed in the fourth period was too much to overcome. 

 A bright spot for the Wolves was the play of Zehr, who turned in perhaps his best game of the year, finishing with 17 points. Mathews would add 14 and Tolar 12 with Peterson scoring 8 and McBride 6. Ryan Fiern finished with five to round out the scoring for the Wolves who ended the year with a 12-19 record. Singer improved to 18-18 on the year and now advances to face #4 Lacassine. 

#20 Weston (12-19) 4 26 6 26 62
#13 Singer (18-18) 20 23 13 21 77
(Weston scoring: Zehr 17, Mathews 14, Tolar 12, Peterson 8, McBride 6, Fiern 5 (Siniger scoring) n/a


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