In a game that featured sharp-shooting offense from both teams, it was defense that finally made the difference Tuesday night at Scotlandville High.
The Hornets held Central High scoreless for the final two minutes of play, and pulled away for a 71-57 District 4-5A win.
Scotlandville (23-4, 8-0) sank 11 of 13 fourth-quarter free throws. Central (11-7, 4-3) trailed by nine points entering the fourth, and cut the lead to eight on three occasions. The last came at 63-55 with 3:34 left, but Scotlandville finished the game with an 8-2 run.
“It was an offensive game. Both teams shot the ball well,” Scotlandville coach Carlos Sample said. “In the end, what I think it came down to was we were able to get a few more stops. We had gotten a good lead, and I think we got complacent trading baskets.”
For the game, Scotlandville made eight 3-pointers, and 19 of 22 free throws. Jordan Adebutu made four 3-pointers, and topped the Hornets with 24 points. LeMarcus Lee (23) and Garrick Green (16) also hit double figures.
Central, which has scrambled the past few weeks while starters Terrell Chatman and Kevin Henry completed their football recruiting, had a full squad against Scotlandville.
Austin Stewart (20), Henry (14) and Titus Woodfork (13) topped Central, which made six 3-pointers.
“We’ve been playing well, but our offense hasn’t come around. I’m surprised that it came through tonight,” said Central coach Ron Lewis, whose team shot 50 percent from the field for the game.
“With all the guys running in and out of practice for the past two weeks, this wasn’t bad.”
Woodfork had a pair of baskets including a 3-pointer to help Central take a 5-0 lead. The light finally came on for Scotlandville three minutes in when Lee scored on a follow shot.
The Hornets went on to score on nine straight possessions, and made eight of their last nine shots for the quarter. Still, Woodfork’s late jumper helped Central stay within 22-14 after one.
In the second, Central made six of eight from the field, but couldn’t keep up. Scotlandville hit on eight of 16 including a pair of threes by Adebutu, and led 42-28 at halftime.
Scotlandville stretched its lead to 48-32, its largest of the game, midway through the third. Central came right back as Chatman started a 13-2 run with a 3-pointer. Stewart had six points and two steals in the spurt, which got Central as close as 50-45.
The win was Scotlandville’s 10th consecutive since losing at the Parish tournament in late December to McKinley. Sample said his team has been focused while learning from the loss.
“You can talk about things, but experience is the best teacher,” Sample said. “You hear things like, ‘The giant has been slayed.’ The giant hasn’t been slayed, but he’s woken up.”
For Central, the quality of play was a step in the right direction. The Wildcats lost at home by 25 points to Scotlandville in the first round of district play.
“One thing the kids take pride in is getting better,” Lewis said. “We’re getting better at the right time. We have to continue that because we have another tough game coming up Friday.”