Scotlandville’s basketball team has “a lot of new faces in new roles,” coach Carlos Sample said.
Sample’s Hornets learned two valuable lessons Saturday night in defeating John Curtis 48-37 in the second round of the Country Day Classic.
Scotlandville (11-2) weathered a ragged first half and utilized a 14-0 run during a span of 6:12 in the third quarter to seemingly take charge of the game at 37-23, saw that dwindle to 37-31 before pulling away in the final six minutes.
The Hornets advance to an 8 p.m. Monday game against University High, a 59-55 winner against McDonogh 35 on Saturday night in a game that never had a lead of more than five points by either team.
Jalen Johnson’s field goal, his only points of the game, gave University High (10-0) a 57-55 lead with 23 seconds remaining. John Jones sealed it with two free throws with 2.5 seconds left.
Curtis (5-2) led Scotlandville 21-20 at halftime thanks to a 14-point first half performance by Richard Durant. The Patriots guard, who had a game-high 18 points, scored nine in the second period.
“That darned No. 11 (Durant) just blew by us,” Sample said. “He got open look after open look.
“I just told them at halftime to do what we do in practice,” Sample said of lesson No. 1. “Relax and do what we know how to do.”
Curtis’ defense created an eight-point burst within 85 seconds to turn a 37-23 deficit into 37-31 in the fourth quarter.
“They’re a good team. We knew they’d make a run,” Sample said of lesson No. 2. “Right now we’re just trying to learn to finish games.”
A 3-pointer by Curtis’ Kai Morgan, a follow by Matt Nelson and two steals that produced three made free throws endangered the Scottlandville lead.
Jordan Adebutu’s 3-pointer made it 40-31 with 5:15 remaining and two layups by Garrick Green enabled the Hornets to survive.
Freshman guard JaVonte Smart led Scotlandville with 14 points. Adebutu and Green each had 13.
Scotlandville, last season’s Class 5A state runnerup, won the championship in 2012 and 2013.
“Right now, we’re just trying to learn, trying to get ready for January games,” Sample said. “That’s why we play in a tournament (with strong teams) like this.”
Curtis coach Mike Krajcer said his team had trouble with Scotlandville’s quickness in the third period.
“We’ve still got football kids who are still adjusting leg-wise,” Krajcer said. “They’re a very good team, and we were going back-to-back (nights) against good teams. Our legs were a little weary.”
The Patriots routed a strong East St. John team 65-48 Friday.
“We just didn’t focus on screening out (on rebounds) like we did (Friday) night,” Krajcer said. “We tried a little 1-2-2 zone instead of a 2-3 zone and we didn’t play it as well. We haven’t practiced it as much.
“But, we’ve got to try things. That is what this is about.
“We thought if we did the 1-2-2, it would take away the 3-pointer from the top of the key. Which we did.”
Curtis plays McDonogh 35 at 3:30 p.m. Monday.