For most of the first half of Friday’s championship game of the East Baton Rouge/Bob Pettit Coca Cola basketball tournament, every player on the court looked tight.
Every player except Scotlandville’s JaVonte Smart.
The senior forward scored 23 of his game-high 31 points in the first half to give Scotlandville a comfortable lead, and the top-seeded Hornets went on to post a 57-37 win over No. 2 McKinley.
The game was played at Family Christian Academy, where Scotlandville (14-5) earned its sixth parish tournament title since 2009. Sixth-seeded Broadmoor (13-8) defeated third-seeded Zachary 51-45 to claim third place.
“Everyone played their role,” Scotlandville coach Carlos Sample said. “JaVonte’s role is probably bigger than anyone’s around Baton Rouge. We have to feed off of him, and we did that tonight.”
Smart, who was named the tournament MVP, took control from the start, scoring Scotlandville’s first 13 points. The Hornets went on to take a 31-14 halftime lead.
For the half, Smart was 8 of 14 from the field with three 3-pointers. The rest of the Hornets were a collective 3 for 13, but they picked up their game in the second half.
“I had it on my mind the whole night. The last few times I’ve played (McKinley), I didn’t play that good,” Smart said. “Everybody was telling me they were up on me, so I had to give it back.”
McKinley (13-6) had three players in double figures — Keshawn Leatherman (12), Marcus Coleman (11) and Tyrece Radford (10) — but the Panthers didn’t settle down until the second half.
The Panthers scored the first nine points of the third quarter to pull within 31-23 of the Hornets. Reece Beekman and David Thomas each hit 3-pointers for Scotlandville to stop the run.
Coleman’s jumper early in the fourth quarter had McKinley within 39-29. Scotlandville went on a 14-2 run to put the game out of reach.
“I’ve got to commend my guys,” Sample said. “I think it was a challenge they accepted. It's about us getting better day in and day out, and my guys got better tonight. We understand how prestigious this tournament is, but the bigger picture is down the line in March.”
The game opened with McKinley missing its first eight shots from the field. A pair of free throws by Smart gave Scotlandville an 8-2 lead with two minutes left in the first quarter. Beekman’s late 3-pointer put the Hornets on top 16-8.
Scotlandville opened the second quarter with an 11-2 surge that included two 3-pointers and a steal by Smart. The lead was 31-12 before Leatherman’s putback basket had McKinley down 17 at halftime.
Broadmoor 51, Zachary 45: Broadmoor didn’t take the lead until Namir Jones’ basket with 10 seconds left in the third quarter. That score put the Buccaneers on top 38-37, and they were never headed.
Broadmoor’s Nigel Jones scored nine of his 18 points in the fourth quarter, when the Bucs outscored Zachary 13-8.
Also hitting double figures were Namir Jones (12) and Najee Jones (11).
D.J. Collins was a force inside for Zachary, and topped the Broncos with 14 points.
“Broadmoor hasn’t been this high in a while so we’ll take it,” Broadmoor coach Terrence Gillette said. “This has definitely given us some confidence. This is already more wins than we had all of last year so finishing here with a win — we’ll take it.”