DENHAM SPRINGS — Denham Springs High School did all the right things to get to Friday night’s District 4-5A showdown against Scotlandville. The Yellow Jackets won 12 of their previous 13 games, and that lone loss was to the Hornets.
But what about doing the right stuff to challenge the defending Class 5A state champions? Well, that was another story — one dominated by Scotlandville.
Scotlandville raced out to a 17-4 first-quarter lead en route to a 74-38 victory over Denham Springs to close out the boys basketball regular season at DSHS.
“They’re so skilled and they’re so quick and you can’t make mistakes,” Denham Springs coach Kevin Caballero said. “And when I say mistakes, I mean you have to make all your layups, your putbacks and you have can’t turn the ball over.
“When a game gets as physical as this one was, it’s hard to get anything done offensively. We got off to a tremendously slow start, and they had a lot to do with it.”
So did sophomore sensation Ja’Vonte Smart, who scored a game-high 27 points, including six 3-pointers for Scotlandville (30-2, 10-0), which wrapped up its seventh straight district title. Smart also had nine rebounds.
Jaylen Hawkins added with 17 points with three 3-pointers and Garrick Green contributed 12 points and 11 rebounds for the winners. Torez Kinchen led Denham Springs (17-13, 8-1) with 20 points. He made three 3-pointers. Altoris Odom added 15.
Odom made a free throw that gave Denham Springs a 1-0 lead. Scotlandville went on a 12-0 run that quickly decided who would control the tempo and the game.
Five different players scored for the Hornets in the first quarter as they built that 17-4 lead. The Yellow Jackets got bogged down by six turnovers and 1-for-7 shooting from the field.
Smart provided a condensed version of his skills set in the second quarter. He was adept at driving through the lane for layups, made two 3-pointers while scoring 12 points and pulled down five rebounds in the quarter. SHS led by as much as 24 points and had a 35-14 halftime lead.
“As far as we were concerned our playoffs started tonight,” Scotlandville coach Carlos Sample said. “Winning a district title is a major goal for our team and tonight they accomplished it.
“I was pleased with how we played, especially on defense. We had a lot of guys contribute and that’s good also.”
The third quarter brought more of the same. Scotlandville extended its lead to more than 30 points.
Kinchen made two fourth-quarter 3-pointers for the Yellow Jackets, but the Hornets did not blink. They kept scoring.