SIMPSON – In a low-scoring playoff affair, Simpson hit shots late when it needed to as the Broncos advance in the Class C State Quarterfinals.
Simpson defeated Grand Isle 36-32 Friday night at home, led by 14 points from forward Rhett Petre.
“We knew it was going to be tough, physical and low scoring,” Simpson head coach Jade Losavio said. “I was hoping we’d come out on fire and open it up, but it didn’t work out that way. They were well coached and great defensively. They have a really good player, and I told him that he could play at the next level. We contained him and held him to 12 points.”
Although it was a second-round matchup, the game was played earlier due to Grand Isle having to travel so far on a school night and both teams having a bye.
No. 11 Grand Isle dressed just seven players and ran long offensive sets to avoid a run-and-gun contest.
“It’s hard to be in a defensive stance for 40 or 50 seconds, but that’s the nature of the beast,” Losavio said. “We had to find a way to win. We weren’t really on tonight, but we hit some 3s early. That ended up being big. It’s tough, but playoffs are tough. Winning is tough.”
The Trojans led 21-17 midway through the third quarter, but Simpson went on a 7-0 run – with two layups by Petre – to take a 24-21 lead.
Guard Preston Miller hit a layup for the Broncos to go up 30-25 with 4:15 to play, but Grand Isle pulled back within 1.
Simpson extended the lead back to 5 after a pair of free throws by Ethan Nash, and the Trojans hit a 3 with 30 seconds to play to get within a possession.
Grand Isle missed a jumper with under 10 seconds to play, and Nash drilled a pair of free throws with just over a second left to seal the win.
“We answered the bell and hit a few shots,” Losavio said. “It feels good to find a way to win.”
The Broncos are the defending state champions, but lost a majority of their minutes from last year’s squad.
“It’s a learning process,” Losavio said. “You have to find ways to win and fight through it. You have to work on your game everyday. If you stay the same, you’re getting worse.”
No. 6 Simpson will take on the winner of No. 14 Kilbourne and No. 3 Hornbeck in the quarterfinals.