LAKE CHARLES – For the second year in a row, Simpson will play for the Class C State Championship after dominating in the semifinals.
The Broncos got a spark off the bench to ignite its offense in the 71-48 win over Pleasant Hill Monday at Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles.
"We split with them during the year, and this game, we went back-and-forth," Simpson head coach Jade Losavio said. "I think we just pounded them inside and used our size. We got ahead, and slowly but surely, kept pulling away. They had a great season, and it's a great rivalry. I'm looking forward to seeing them in the district next year again."
Simpson will take on No. 1 Summerfield, which won 62-44 last year in the final game of the year. The Rebels have won the last three Class C titles.
"It will be a big game," Losavio said. "I'm sure they've been practicing, and we've been practicing. I tell my team that we practice to beat the best teams in the state. When we come in tomorrow, we've been doing it all year, so we'll be practicing to beat the best team in the state. Hopefully, Friday, with some luck and hard work it can happen."
The Broncos trailed 9-1 early in the first quarter, but Zach Vargas checked in to provide some energy off the bench.
"We came out in the first couple of minutes, and I don't know why, but I guess the moment kind of got to us," Losavio said. "This is our fourth game in the building, but it happens. We've all been there, and we're all human. He came out unaffected and gave us a spark, a couple of steals and layups to get us back in the game. It was tied at the end of the first quarter at 16, and it easily could have been down 10 if he doesn't come in."
A 3 by Cameron Bettez with 1:47 to play in the first quarter gave Simpson its first lead, and the two teams headed into the second quarter tied up 16.
With 2:58 left in the half, Vargas capped off a 13-0 run with a layup to put the Broncos up 31-20.
Vargas filled up the stat sheet with nine points, seven assists, four steals and five boards.
"It was nerve-racking, actually," he said. "I've never been on this court, and once I hit my first shot, all the stress went away. I felt comfortable playing here."
Simpson outscored Pleasant Hill 17-8 in the third quarter, and the Broncos extended their lead to 21 after a layup by Landon Hall.
Simpson ran away in the fourth using its bigs who were running from basket-to-basket to get wide open layups.
Jake Flatt and Rhett Petre were the beneficiaries of the uptempo style, collected 26 total points with 15 coming in the fourth.
"It's amazing because they picked the best time to listen to their coach," Losavio said. "I said 'look, I need bigs to run the floor. Don't let their bigs rest.' I guess they waited until the semifinals to do what their coach says. Hopefully, in the finals, they will listen to everything their coach says."
Bettez led all scorers with 18 points, which was redemption after struggling from the field in last year's state tournament.
"I didn't want to hear that again," he said. "Everybody in Simpson was saying 'oh, you choked it away.' I had to at least try and do something different.
"It's my senior year, so I have to leave it on the court every game. I did all I could."