With upstart No. 22 Parkway breathing down its collective necks, No. 3-seeded Scotlandville simply placed the ball in the hands of its most experienced player.
Senior guard LaMarcus Lee, a Tennessee-Chattanooga signee, was part of an enjoyable parade to the free throw line in the fourth quarter, catapulting Scotlandville to a 55-46 Class 5A state quarterfinal win over Parkway and back to the Top 28 tournament for the sixth straight year.
Lee scored 10 of his team-high 20 points in the fourth quarter, including 8 of 10 shooting from the free throw line, where the Hornets were 12 of 16 in the quarter.
“Our guys were able to maintain their composure because you knew they were going to make a run,” Scotlandville coach Carlos Sample said. “Our guys been there before and withstood the run and made some free throws at the end.”
Scotlandville (31-4) returns to the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Boys Top 28 tournament where they’ll face No. 7 Byrd (26-5) at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
Scotlandville’s part of a healthy dose of local representation that’s in contention for state titles with St. Michael, Episcopal and Madison Prep all in pursuit of championship gold.
There also will be a representative in Class 3A with defending champion University High taking on No. 5 St. Louis (24-6) at 6:15 p.m Thursday. The Cubs advanced with a 76-73 overtime win over Port Allen on Saturday night.
No. 10 St. Michael (27-6) reached its first Top 28 appearance with a 58-45 home quarterfinal victory over Class 4A power Peabody and meets No. 6 Landry-Walker (24-9) in semifinal action at 8 p.m. Wednesday.
“It didn’t really sink in until about 4:30 (Saturday) morning,” St. Michael coach Drew Hart said. “Then I kind of woke up and thought, ‘Oh my gosh, we’re going to the Top 28.’ That’s unbelievable. I don’t know if I’ll sleep this week.”
Third-seeded Episcopal erased a four-year dry spell without a trip to the Top 28, pulling away from sixth-seeded Rapides for a 55-45 win that was also the 500th win over coach Chris Beckman.
The Knights (31-2) are matched with second-seeded Lakeview (26-5) at 2:45 p.m. Thursday.
“You have to evolve and going to 31-2 is a process,” Beckman said. “Our kids are mad. They think they should be 33-0, which is a great feeling. I would not have predicted this and I’m enjoying this. The kids deserve all the credit, and I’m proud to be taking this team to the Top 28.”
Madison Prep’s headed back to the Top 28 for a fourth consecutive year, where the top-seeded Chargers (33-1) take on fourth-seeded and reigning Class 1A state champion Country Day (22-7) at 1 p.m. Wednesday.
“We’ve definitely been blessed and to get there four years in a row means a lot,” MPA coach Jeff Jones said. “But if you don’t go there and finish it, it’s kind of fool’s gold.”
A 3-pointer from Lee before the halftime buzzer gave Scotlandville a 21-18 lead which they extended to 28-18 midway through the fourth quarter.
Parkway (25-9) twice pulled to within four points, including 45-41 with 1:09 to go, but the free throw shooting of Lee and Joshua Roberts helped Scotlandville persevere.
“Our kids just toughed it out in a hostile environment,” Sample said. “That’s not your typical No. 22 seed. They had an outstanding ball club.
With a packed gym an hour before tip-off, Hart said patrons had to be turned away.
After three previous chances in school history those that were fortunate to make it inside witnessed St. Michael advancing to its first semifinal where Cincinnati signee Jacob Evans scored 20, guard Nick Arcement 17 and center David Ventress 16.
“You love to play in games like that because you don’t get too many opportunities in a lifetime, especially for us,” Hart said. “It’s great for the kids.”
Guards Spencer Kleinpeter and Chris Beckman Jr. combined for 38 points and forward Kevin Tripeaux added a double-double — 15 points, 10 rebounds — enabling Episcopal to punch its third ticket to the Top 28 under coach Beckman and fourth in school history.
“The quarterfinal game is so hard to win because there’s so much invested,” coach Beckman said. “You’re one step away from being there and you’re also one step away from being done.”
Jones dismisses the popular belief his team’s biggest incentive in being able to advance to the Top 28 is to get another shot at Country Day, which ended the Chargers’ season 50-47 in last year’s semifinal round.
“If revenge is your biggest motive it doesn’t always come out right,” Jones said. “We want to go out and know that this is another step along the journey to get to where we want to be and to do that, we’ve got to beat these guys.”