LAKE CHARLES — Despite facing much adversity, the Simpson Broncos found a way to keep within striking distance of Atlanta in the Class C semifinals on Monday at Burton Coliseum.

LAKE CHARLES — Despite facing much adversity, the Simpson Broncos found a way to keep within striking distance of Atlanta in the Class C semifinals on Monday at Burton Coliseum.

But it just wasn’t meant to be for the second-seeded Broncos as 21 turnovers and numerous missed layups proved costly in a 54-40 loss to the third-ranked Bulldogs.

“I’m very proud of these young men,” sixth-year Simpson head coach Jade Losavio said. “They have all worked so hard to get here and made a good run at it.”

The Broncos finished the season with a record of 31-6 overall, reaching the state semifinals for the third time in school history and for the first time since 2008.

Atlanta moved to the Class C finals, where the Bulldogs will face the top-ranked and defending state champion Summerfield Rebels at 10 a.m. Friday.

The Bulldogs (32-7) jumped out to a 15-8 lead after the first period of play, but the Broncos refused to back down.

Simpson began to settle down and find its rhythm, going on a 10-2 run over the next several minutes to open up an 18-17 lead.

But by the end of the first half, the Bulldogs had scored six straight points, getting a couple of those baskets off of turnovers, giving Atlanta a 23-18 cushion at the intermission.

Once again, the Bulldogs extended their lead to seven points early on in the second half of play, only to have the Broncos battle back.

Just past the midway point of the third period, the Broncos put together another run, climbing to within a point of the Bulldogs, 34-33.

However, the Bulldogs closed out the third period with a 6-0 spurt, taking a 40-33 advantage into the final eight minutes of play.

An early bucket by Tony Brown gave Atlanta a 9-point advantage and head coach Tyler Johnson opted to go into a spread type of offense to force Simpson to come get them.

“I figured they wouldn’t come out on us, so I decided wen needed to hold onto the ball,” Johnson said.

Eventually, the Broncos didn’t have a choice but to come out and foul, forcing Atlanta to the foul line, where Brown and all-stater Lashard Powell combined to go 12-of-18 in the contest.

Atlanta stretched its lead to double digits later on in the contest and Simpson could never recover as the Broncos fell in defeat.

“I want to congratulate Simpson on getting here and how hard they played,” Johnson said. “By no means was this an easy win. We had to claw and scratch to get it.”

Powell led the Bulldogs with 27 points, while Brown finished with 22 points. Only two other players scored for the Bulldogs, who shot just 37 percent from the floor.

Senior Austin Williams and junior Tanner Yates each had 11 points in the loss for the Broncos, while sophomore Cameron Bettez added eight points and four rebounds.

“I couldn’t be more proud of our young men,” Losavio said. “They stuck with it and played extremely hard.

“The future looks very bright for Simpson,” Losavio added, noting his junior high team went 17-1 this past season. “We are hoping to make it a tradition getting here and one day soon, play in the finals and win us a state championship.”