The night started with a pulsating game that went down to the wire. Jehovah-Jireh made two free throws with 13.8 seconds left to beat Scotlandville 28-27 in the junior varsity game.
There was no David slays Goliath finish in the varsity game for the Class C Warriors. Class 5A Scotlandville raced out to a 14-2 lead and never looked back, claiming a 94-58 victory in the varsity game.
“Everybody was talking about good they were,” Scotlandville’s Ja’Vonte Smart said. “I just told my team we had to come out with a lot of energy. We have a lot more confidence now, and we know teams are going to come at us. We try to go at them as a team before they come at us.”
As usual, Smart, the Hornets’ junior point guard, led the way with 30 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists in Friday's game at Scotlandville. Jaylen Hawkins and Malik Williams each had 17 points, while freshman Reece Beekman added 16. LaMarq Williams had 12.
The Hornets did exactly what Smart implored them to do. They led 27-10 after one quarter, often finding holes in the Warriors defense that provided open shots. And shots were plentiful with Scotlandville making 12 of 25 shots in a free-wheeling first quarter.
Jehovah-Jireh made a brief run at the Hornets early in the second quarter. They got within 14 points at 31-17 when Trenton Payne scored on a drive down the lane with 5:06 left in the half.
Scotlandville (19-1) also flipped the script on a Jehovah-Jireh team known for its 3-point shooting. The Hornets had 13 3-pointers, including five by Hawkins and four by Smart. Jehovah-Jireh (21-6) had just one 3-pointer. Jaron Davis led the Warriors with 15 points. Ja’Coby Carter (13) and Payne (12) also scored in double figures for JJCA.
“We didn’t win, but this is where you want to be,” JJCA coach Dirk Ricks said. “They were ready to play, and they shot the ball really well. It was hard to try and get a stop on one person or two because they all played so well.
“What makes Smart great is that he makes everybody around him better. He stays composed and keeps his team involved. The big takeaway for my team is we have to get better defensively, and we have to work harder physically.”
The Warriors' Donald Johnson said, "Lack of execution on the defensive end (hurt his team), and we didn't play well as a team. I know I let my team down, and we'll learn from this."
The advantage for the Hornets remained the same in the third quarter. Jehovah-Jireh scored 21 points in the period, just one point less than Scotlandville. The Hornets found another gear and scored 25 fourth-quarter points to extend their lead.
“They were locked in,” Scotlandville coach Carlos Sample said. “We’ve had some serious basketball the last couple of weeks. Tonight, they had some fun in the second half, not necessarily by design, but they did. You can tell they understand what we’re working to do.”
Beekman, Scotlandville’s lone freshman starter, smiled afterwards. This game was something different after the grind of national tournaments in Atlanta and New Orleans.
“We just tried to move the ball around and find open shots,” Beekman said. “It was fun.”