Broncos shake off the rust in playoff opener, eliminated by Ruston

Broncos shake off the rust in playoff opener, eliminated by Ruston
Bank Image

The ZHS basketball team entered the 2024 Division I select playoffs as the top seeded team. Their race to another title ended with a loss to Ruston High.

Coach Jon McClinton watches as the Broncos tighten things down on defense against East St. John.

The Broncos earned state championships in 2021 and 2022 but were denied the playoffs in 2023 after the LHSAA ruled the team was not eligible to participate in the playoffs. So instead of talking about four-peats this year the Broncos were going for their third state championship in four years.

East St. John entered the tournament as a 17 seed and earned the right to play the Broncos in the Regional round after traveling to Shreveport and defeating Airline (71-68) in overtime.

zac Amir Chaney drives through the lane.jpg

Amir Chaney drives through the lane in Zachary’s playoff win.

The teams met in an electric atmosphere at the ZHS gym on Feb. 27. The Broncos started fast with a layup on the first possession by Kheiri Haynes. The Broncos implemented a full-court press throughout and after a Rashead Smith charge the Broncos turned up the pressure with Beejay Brooks hitting a mid-lane jumper and Xavier Ferguson scoring on back-to-back layups to give the Broncos an 11-0 lead 2 minutes into the first.

From there, the Wildcats would finally score and trade buckets with the Broncos and then tighten the score (15-10) on a 3-point shot before another Bronco run closed the opening period (19-12).

Ferguson started the scoring in the second with a free throw before both teams’ defenses began to lock down for the next three minutes. Bronco Deezy Collins came off the bench to hit a 3-pointer to end the scoring drought for both teams.

Throughout the second, the Broncos pressure defense and pushing the ball on offense kept the Wildcats from gaining offensive continuity in the first half. A jumper in the lane by Ferguson and a resounding dunk by Kristion Brooks put the Broncos up by 15 with 3:41 left in the half.

East St. John called a timeout and responded with a 3-pointer to end the run. Amir Chaney’s back-to-back layups on Bronco steals extended the lead back to 16 but a late 3-pointer by the Wildcats left the score 35-22 at the half.

Leading scorers for the Broncos in the first half were Haynes and Ferguson who both scored 12.

The second half started with Haynes scoring the first two buckets. After multiple trips up and down the court where the Broncos held East St. John scoreless and the Wildcats similarly stymied the Broncos, a long-range 3-pointer by East St. John brought the Wildcats within 12 at 4:06 remaining in the period.

Brooks responded with a 3-pointer for the Broncos, which was followed by a 3-pointer from Chaney and the game was in control, or so it seemed. The Wildcats would not go away and pulled within 11 with a minute remaining and went into the final stanza only down 13 (51-38).

In the fourth, the Broncos slowed down the tempo and relied on easy buckets including a beautiful pass from Haynes to Brooks in the lane for a layup. The Wildcats responded and cut the lead and appeared to be making a late run as the Broncos relied on easy goals under the basket and excellent free-throw shooting.

With 1:30 left, East St. John cut the lead to 10 (59-49) and the visitors in attendance increased their volume to push the Wildcats for a late run. They responded with a 3-pointer to tighten the game to 7 before Chaney scores after being fouled and make the free throw to give the Broncos breathing room and end the rally as the Broncos shook off the rust for an opening playoff game victory (64-34).

Ten individual Broncos scored in the victory with Chaney finishing as the leading scorer with 20 followed by Ferguson with 12 and Brooks with 7.

The Broncos played the Ruston Bearcats at home on March 1 in the quarterfinals. Unfortunately, the Broncos could not close out the Bearcats and were eliminated 62-55.


About Mary Weyand 14613 Articles
Mary founded Scoop Tour with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research. With ample knowledge about the Automobile industry, she also contributes her knowledge for the Automobile section of the website.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.