There’s no ‘I’ in team, but there’s definitely a big No. 1 on this year’s edition of the Scotlandville Hornets.
That would be sophomore JaVonte’ Smart, and even though the Hornets 97-45 win over a game but outmatched Glen Oaks team was an example of the kind of team play that coach Carlos Sample likes, Smart was definitely the spark that ignited his team from the opening tip.
As well as Smart played, he didn’t overshadow his teammates but rather was the icing on a performance that once again marked the Hornets as a 5A powerhouse.
“He (Sample) has what we had back in the day,” Glen Oaks coach Harvey Adger said. “I’m proud of what these young coaches have done, and I hope he can bring another (state) title back to Baton Rouge.
“Games like this will help us when we get to district against teams like U-High and Port Allen and Brusly and Parkview,” he said.
Smart finished with 29 points in three quarters, including seven 3-pointers and a steal and crowd-pleasing dunk in the third quarter. Jordan Adebutu had a sizzling fourth quarter, nailing three 3-pointers and scoring 13 of his 22 points. Garrick Green (18 points) and Joshua Roberts (11) were the other Hornets in double figures before joining Smart on the bench for the final quarter.
Smart opened the game the way Scotlandville fans hope to see him start more games this season, draining a 3-pointer from the top of the key. He went on to shoot 6-for-8 from 3-point range in the first half. When he wasn’t shooting 3-pointers he was dishing out assists, several on no-look passes, and mostly to Green near the basket.
Green also pulled down six first-half rebounds and eight for the game.
“We’re in the process of figuring out some roles,” Sample said, “but I think we’re headed in the right direction. It’s going to pass through (Smart), and he understands that he’ll play a much bigger role.
“He has more court-savvy, and he has great instincts. He makes the guys around him better, and they accept that.”
Glen Oaks stayed close halfway through the opening quarter, largely through the inside play of Dontrell McQuarter, but Scotlandville went from up 12-6 to leading 21-10 after one quarter. Scotlandville led 46-22 at halftime and 76-33 after three quarters.
McQuarter finished as the Panthers’ leading scorer with 21 points, and Nicholas Cobb added nine, scoring their only two 3-pointers.
“You need games like this to help you prepare for the rest of your predistrict play, and your district, and hopefully the post-season,” Glen Oaks coach Harvey Adger said. “You need to learn what your kids are capable of doing and what they’re not capable of doing.
“When you’re playing a team with the balance of Scotlandville, you can’t afford to turn the ball over.”
Sample said his team could have played better in the first half but turned up the intensity in the second half.
“For the second game of the season I thought the overall effort was there,” he said. “We didn’t get as many loose balls as we needed to in the first half and we got outhustled a little bit, but they dedicated themselves to come out and play a little harder in the second half.”