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Simsboro boys win 2-B title

Tigers win thrilling title game
Saturday, February 10, 2024
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Leader photo by Matt Belinson Simsboro celebrates after winning the 2-B title Saturday.

Simsboro (23-12, 6-1) won another late thriller against rival Choudrant (22-12, 5-2) 75-63 to clinch the District 2-B title Saturday at West Ouachita High School.

With seven lead changes in the first half alone and runs from both teams across the game, the Class B powerhouses weren't going to give away the district title without a fight. The game was tied 17-17 after the first quarter before Simsboro took a narrow 37-34 lead into halftime after a half court buzzer-beater three from Simsboro guard Jakaleb Modest, who finished with a game-high 25 points.

"Honestly, it's another amazing basketball game," Simsboro coach Adam Wodach said. "We played three times in less than three weeks it feels like and every game has been an absolute barnburner. I'm speechless. I honestly think if we played 10 times we might split. I'm just proud of our guys. I'm proud of just the way we responded."

The first half saw both team's best players come ready to play, with Choudrant senior Michael Jones putting up 16 points and 4 blocks, while Lawson Stevens had 7 points.

Modest had 13 at the break for Simsboro, while Ahmad Smith had 12 with a pair of threes.

Modest ended the half with a bang as he pulled up near halfcourt with 3 seconds left and swished a three to give the Tigers a three-point lead. 

"I knew when it went off my hands, 'oh yeah, that's going in,'" Modest said.

Wodach wasn't as confident in the moment.

"I thought once that before that went in he's either going to make everything after this or he's just going to come out shooting," Wodach said. "What I'm most proud of that shot is his composure. He took four dribbles all the way to half-court to shoot the ball."

The late shot sparked a big run coming out of the locker room for Simsboro as the Tigers went on a 12-4 run for nearly four minutes of the third to extend their lead to 49-40.

But the Aggies weren't laying over and proceeded to go on a 9-2 run to cut the deficit to 49-51 with 2:00 to go in the third as Tucker Batteron nailed a three to bring the crowd alive again. Simsboro stopped the bleeding with a 6-2 run over the final minutes and led 57-51 heading into the fourth. 

The Tigers found success turning Choudrant over and using the live-ball mistakes into easy offense on the other end, while getting consistent shot-making on mid-range floaters and jumpers that Choudrant had issues getting in front of. With just over 3:00 to play, Simsboto had built back a 68-58 lead and never looked back.

Modest came alive for 8 points in the quarter to ice the win, and proved difficult to stop from Choudrant head coach Ryan Smith's assessment.

"A big thing was they kept scoring," Smith said. "They consistently are really good at putting the ball in the basket. They just kept those mid-range jumpers, got some offensive rebounds on us that hurt. That was the message at halftime was if we cleaned up the boards and be a little more aggressive trying to go to the basket. The first half offensive rebounds really hurt us. But credit to them for realizing that and seeing what was working and continuing to do it."

Along with Modest's 25 points, Simsboro got 14 from Ahmad Smith and 11 each from Itavus Brown and Triston Deloney.

Choudrant was led by Michael Jones' 24 points, 13 rebounds, and 5 blocks. Lawson Stevens added 14 points, while Tucker Batterton put up 9 points.