WALKER — Once the postgame interviews were complete, Scotlandville coach Carlos Sample leaned against the wall outside the locker room.
“This was one for the ages,” Sample said. “That was a game.”
The Hornets escaped with a 68-67 road victory over Walker in a District 4-5A boys basketball game that was about more than just the superstars.
LSU signee Ja’Vonte Smart had a game-high 24 points with rebounds and four assists. But it was Reece Beekman who made the game-winning shot with 55.7 seconds remaining. And it was Smart’s brother, Da’Vyan, who jumped out to defend Walker’s Jalen Perkins on the final play. Perkins’ 3-pointer at the buzzer bounced off the rim.
“Coach (Sample) always tells us to jump stop and I did a jump stop and hit the shot,” Beekman said. “(The win) feels great. We’ve played some intense games and this one ranks right up there.”
Walker (23-4, 0-1) held the ball for a final shot taking its last timeout with 11.5 seconds left. Walker coach Anthony Schiro said the plan was to get the ball to Perkins in the high post and let him distribute the ball. When the ball was reversed to Perkins, Da’Vyan Smart jumped out to defend.
“My brother told me they would reverse the ball and (to) get out on (Perkins),” Smart said. “I didn’t touch the ball, but maybe he didn’t see it too well. I was trying to play good defense without fouling.”
“(The last play) didn’t go as smoothly as we drew it up,” Schiro said. “As a matter of fact, I drew it up thinking we had the ball on the other side. We were trying to flash Jalen Perkins in the high post, thinking they would key on Jalen Cook. We did win tonight, but we’re going to be OK. We play games like this to prepare for the playoffs.”
Cook scored 12 of his 15 points in the first half. Beekman finished with 19 in the game that helped showcase the two sophomores. Freshman Brian Thomas had a 16 for Walker and Trent Montgomery added 10.
“Tonight we got contributions from everybody,” Sample said. “That’s what it took.”
Walker raced out to an early 8-4 lead, but Scotlandville scored the next eight points, including four by Ja'Vonte Smart and led 12-8 with 3:58 to go in the first quarter.
The Hornets led 17-14 but were outscored 10-2 in the final two minutes. Cook banked in a 3-pointer from the left corner to send the Wildcats into the second quarter with a 24-19 lead.
A 3-pointer by Beekman got Scotlandville within two less than a minute into the second period. The Wildcats extended their lead to as much as eight points. Another 3-pointer by Beekman made it a 39-38 game with 32.2 seconds to go in the half. Cook was fouled on a 3-point attempt and made all three shots to send the Wildcats into the locker room with a 42-38 advantage.
Scotlandville flipped the script and took a 55-53 lead into the fourth quarter. Walker rallied to claim a 65-61 lead over the Hornets with 3:15 left on a bucket by Darius Hampton. Free throws by Ja’Vonte Smart at 1:42 and WHS’ Dalton Moore with 1:22 in changed the lead twice more before Beekman’s game winner.