Scotlandville High School All-American guard Ja’Vonte Smart headed to the bench following a charging call — his second foul of the first quarter. He remained there for the next 10 minutes, patiently waiting his return in the second half.
During his absence, No. 2 Scotlandville managed to fend off a scrappy No. 15 New Iberia team before turning a fragile four-point halftime lead into a comfortable Class 5A regional victory Tuesday on the strength of a scorching second half.
Scotlandville shot a blistering 58 percent in the second half and erupted for 31 points in the third quarter where the reigning Class 5A state champions triumphed 82-65 over New Iberia.
“It’s tough sitting down, but I have to work through that,” Smart said. “My team held it down, and we came out and picked up the defense and then the shots started falling.”
Smart scored 24 of his game-high 29 points in the final 16 minutes of play, while guard Jordan Adebutu added 22, leading Scotlandville (32-2) to its 14th consecutive victory and into Friday’s state quarterfinal round at No. 10 St. Augustine, a 43-41 upset winner over No. 7 Comeaux.
“I told my kids that it wasn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon and you have to play for 32 minutes,” Scotlandville coach Carlos Sample said. “We took their best shot. We had to get off the ropes and come back swinging in the second half.”
Adebutu and Smart combined on four 3-pointers, igniting a 12-2 run in the first three minutes of third quarter that resulted in a 45-31 lead.
Scotlandville shot 77 percent from the field but was a 7-of-9 from 3-point range with guard Jaylon Hawkins getting into the act with a pair of 3s in the last two minutes to make it 60-42.
The Hornets were 11-of-19 from-point territory and shot 57.4 (27 of 47) overall.
“Coach Sample runs a class-act program,” said New Iberia coach Todd Russ, whose team won District 3-5A and brought in a 14-game win streak. “It’s one thing to have talented players and it’s a totally different thing to put the talent in the right positions to makes the plays.”
Scotlandville’s interior defense, led by Lamarq Williams, began to take its toll on New Iberia (23-10), with several blocked shots that further fueled the Hornets third-quarter run.
Guard Chamaje Barideaux led NISH with 17, while fellow guard Tyrik Landry scored 10 of his 15 during a first half in which the game was tied 14-14 after the first quarter.
The Jackets, taking advantage of both Smart and Hawkins being out of the game with foul trouble, closed to within 28-25 on a three-point play with 1:46 left before halftime where Williams gave the Hornets a little cushion with seven of his 12 points.
“That was an example of a great team effort, holding your brother up,” said Sample, noting a pair of first-half 3s from Joshua Roberts in Smart’s absence. “We were able to get our first group on in the second half and were able to open it up.”