LAKE CHARLES — The Scotlandville High School notched wins against Landry-Walker and Lafayette Christian on Saturday at Hamilton Christian to win the Sunday Players Battle in the Lake basketball tournament, which featured some of the premier basketball programs in Louisiana.
The tournament win put them atop a field of 16 that included five teams that competed in 2015 state championship games and three more teams that finished a win short of a trip to last season’s Top 28 basketball tournament.
“This tournament and the environment is a great measuring stick for big-time basketball early in the year,” Scotlandville coach Carlos Sample said. “I’m proud of my guys. I’m blessed and honored to win this tournament. But like I tell my guys, it’s a sprint, not a marathon. You want to play people that are better than you, and I think we did that this weekend with this tournament.”
Sophomore guard and national prospect Javonte Smart won the tournament’s Most Valuable Player award after tallying 29 points in the championship game that lifted the Hornets (6-0) to a 69-60 victory against LCA (5-1).
“With his penetration and his jump shot, he’s the total package,” Sample said. “He had a great tournament, and that’s expected of him after playing for the national team and playing on this kind of stage. He had a great, great tournament. He’s our engine, and all the other guys follow suit.”
Scotlandville opened the day with a competitive game against fellow 5A powerhouse Landry-Walker (5-2), a game in which it struggled to get going early, turning the ball over four times in the first three minutes and shooting 2-for-7 in the first quarter to fall behind 12-8.
Things didn’t get better early in the second, as Landry-Walker hit its first five shots from behind extended its lead to as many as 11 points.
But the Hornets finally found a rhythm midway through the second quarter and quickly chipped away at the lead until finally tying the game at 29 points apiece before halftime.
Despite Landry-Walker’s best efforts, Scotlandville never trailed again and went on to earn the 59-52 victory.
“That was good measuring stick because (Landry-Walker) is, if not the best, one of the best teams in the state,” Sample said. “We’re going to take it and try to build on it, but the win right now really doesn’t mean a whole lot. We want to win in March.”
Smart once again led the Hornets with a game-high 17-points, while his teammate and fellow all-tournament team member Jordan Adebutu followed closely behind with 14.
Scotlandville suffered another slow start in the championship game against Lafayette Christian as it trailed 16-14 after a tightly-contested first quarter.
The game stayed close until the closing minutes of the first half with the game tied at 24 apiece when Jaylen Hawkins his back-to-back shots from before Adebutu immediately followed those up with a 3 of his own that gave the Hornets a 33-24, and the Knights never recovered.
Smart spent much of the game matched up with another premier sophomore in Lafayette Christian forward Greg Williams, who showed what he could do with a 26-point performance.
“Greg is an animal, he really is an animal,” said Sample, who has know Williams’ father since childhood. “He’s something special and he can only get better. I’m looking forward to great things out of him. … (Williams and Smart) competed well against each other. It’s all in fun. I think they brought the best out of each other.”
Madison Prep also competed in the tournament, finishing fourth after dropping its semifinal game to Lafayette Christian 60-56 off a game-winning dunk by Williams and taking its third place game with Landry-Walker to the wire before falling short in a 56-55 overtime loss.