Posted On: 01/8/18 3:31 PM

The 78th Bossier Invitational was four days of high octane basketball action. In the final, Bossier high school showed why they are a top five team in class 4A by drumming the Richwood Rams by twenty-five. Jacoby Decker, the tournament MVP, displayed to everyone why he is one of the state’s top guard prospects by his play. Now that all teams involved will be headed back into district play on Tuesday, we will review five takeaways from the tournament.

1.) Guard play is exceptional at all levels

The guard play during the tournament was top notch. Jacoby Decker (2019 #11) and Brian White (NSU signee) were the notable names going into the tournament. Decker showed the ability to score inside through contact and outside from deep with his 5’8″ frame. White’s ability to direct an offense along with his knack to change direction in the full court was on full display during his games. Richwood’s Joseph Smith had a 30 point first round game. He followed that showing with double digit scoring and sinking a game winning three against Deridder in the next round. Benton’s point guard Jalen Harding probably had his best three game stretch of the season putting up a 31 (against Red River), 18 (against Natchitoches Central), and finishing with a 30 point outburst against Southwood where he scored sixteen straight points at one time. Other teams like Green Oaks, Huntington, and Southwood had guards who played well in wins. If this keeps up, guard play will dominate the headlines and game plans the rest of the season.

2.) Richwood’s improved play

Richwood began the tournament with eight wins on the season and a #16 ranking in 3A.  During their tournament run to the championship game, they only beat three quality 4A teams in BTW (#23), Deridder (#3), and Huntington (#20).  The scoring of guard Joseph Smith was the offensive spark they road throughout the tournament.  However, the defense of their big men is what cemented those wins.  Forwards Geor’Quarius Spivey (6’7″) and Zachariah Malone (6’8″) altered or blocked several shots while discouraging other drives to the rim.  Demarrius Chisley (6’3″) helped defend perimeters players and scored key buckets for the Rams.  With this runner-up title in hand, Richwood might poise themselves to make a move up the 3A rankings with continued play on this level.

3.)  Defending Natchitoches Central

If a team plays Natchitoches Central, they know that Brian White runs the show.  Bossier obviously knew that coming into their seminfinal game and employed a strategy that allowed them to control the match-up for the majority of the game.  Bossier used senior wing Jeremy Marston and his long wing span to control the movements of the 5’9″ White.  They also allowed 2020 big man Dante Bell to play a one man zone in the lane.  This gave Natchitoches Central post players the ability to shoot mid-range jumpers that they were not comfortable taking.  This caused a quandary for the Chiefs.  They looked out-of-sorts all game and never could get any closer than the final score in defeating Bossier (57-50 final).

4.)  Ranked players having trouble

Outside of the Bossier trio of Jacoby Decker, Kalaas Roots, and Dante Bell, other top ranked players in Louisiana had trouble against their competition during the tournament.  White’s troubles against Bossier were documented earlier.  The other note from that game was that he had to work so hard to initiate the Chiefs offense, he was too tired to get his own shot or penetrate effectively.  The third ranked player in 2019, Kamren Davis (Southwood High), scored two points in their loss to Huntington. He looked listless and slow during a game where his height was needed to negate the height of the Raiders.  Randy Gladney of Deridder was bothered all game by the height of Richwood.  He ended up playing more on the perimeter and gathering occasional tip-ins than putting a stamp on the game.  Although he ended with a total of twelve points, his final layup attempt was blocked which led to Richwood hitting the subsequent three pointer to win the game.  Top players found the sledging tough in the Bossier Invitational.

5.)  Southwood’s addition by subtraction

It is not often that a team loses a highly ranked player and an all-district performer as a freshman and become a better team. The Cowboys might have done just that.  Earlier in the season, they lost sharp shooting guard Cody Deen to personal reasons. After their tournament loss to Huntington, Kamren Davis has seemingly done the same.  What has come of that is a more free flowing offense which gave Southwood their highest scoring total of the season (69 pts.) against Benton.  The team looked like they were having fun on offense and defense.  Wings players like junior Sadarionne Ellis and senior Yancey Kelly were able to move freely in the front court without a post player restricting space.  Senior Letreavin Black had more room to show why he is on the radar of several lower Division one schools with his inside and outside play.  Even though it was not Coach Hamilton’s chosen recipe, his present mixture seems to be working well after subtracting ingredients.

With playoff time nearing, hopefully the competition in the 78th incarnation of the Bossier Invitational gave teams what they needed for the stretch run.  If it did, then we can look to another competitive field in next season’s edition.