Scotlandville just needed a little warmup Tuesday night before it could get down to business.
The Hornets had to fight their way back to a 14-14 tie by the end of the first quarter against Riverside Academy as the Rebels played a physical game to force Scotlandville into a slew of tough shots.
But before Riverside knew what hit them, the Hornets had found their rhythm to the tune to of an 11-0 run in the first five minutes of the period, sparking them to a 67-55 win over the Rebels.
“Both teams were trying to feel each other out, and I just think we played better defense in the second quarter and that got us in a rhythm and that got us some easy baskets,” Scotlandville coach Carlos Sample said. “We had a few consecutive stops there, and it allowed us to get in a flow offensively. And I attribute that to the defensive intensity.”
Scotlandville sophomore guard Ja’Vonte Smart paved the way for the run with a trio of baskets from behind the arc. One of the nation’s top prospects for the Class of 2018, Smart finished with 24 points on 6-of-14 shooting for the Hornets (9-0).
Smart also was the initiator in what was unquestionably the best play of the night when, during a fast break, he threw the ball off the glass to a trailing Garrick Green, who threw down a one-handed dunk.
Smart said he practices the play with Green every day and decided to forgo his own highlight dunk to set up his teammate’s.
“He called me and I was about to dunk it, but I just threw it up to him,” Smart said. “He had got the steal, so I rewarded him with that.”
Green also had a strong first half performance, sinking all four of his shots from the field for eight points. Green chipped in 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting.
Riverside (0-3) would put up a little more of a fight in the third quarter with Isaiah Bigham registering 10 of its 16 points, but his performance was canceled out by a 10-point run by a white-hot Smart.
Bigham’s 14 points on the night weren’t enough to earn him top honors on the Riverside squad, but he wasn’t far behind team leader Herb McGee. McGee finished with 16 points on 5-of-12 from the field. He also was a perfect 4-for-4 from the charity stripe.
The win was a bit of a revenge game for the Hornets who lost to eventual 2A state champion Riverside last year, one of only four loses all season for defending 5A champion Scotlandville.
Prior to the game, Sample called the Rebels one of — if not the — best team in the state, while Riverside coach Timmy Byrd said his program was still shaking off a bit of rust after missing several players in the first few weeks of the season because of football.
“In spurts we played well, and then in spurts we made some uncharacteristic mistakes and some turnovers that we won’t have in a month,” Byrd said. “I thought we played a great team tonight, and we made progress.”