LAKE CHARLES — When the chips were down, there was no question what Scotlandville High School would do — go to star guard Ja’Vonte Smart.
Smart responded by making two free throws with 8.7 seconds to lift top-seeded Scotlandville to a 53-52 victory over Brother Martin in the Division I title game at the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Boys Basketball tournament.
It was part basketball and part drama at Burton Coliseum Saturday night. The Hornets (31-3) won their fourth title in six years in what was their eighth straight title-game appearance.
“When we first started coming to the tournament, back in 2010, we played Brother Martin,” Scotlandville coach Carlos Sample said, recalling a 54-53 loss to the Crusaders. “This game reminded me a lot of that one, only this time we were fortunate enough to win.”
Tre’ Swilling made a key 3-pointer and then sank two free throws with 13 seconds left after the Hornets’ Smart was called for a fourth foul. He made both shots to give the No. 6 Crusaders 52-51 lead.
Five seconds later Swilling, the Crusaders’ top player and the brother 2010 Crusaders’ star Patrick Swilling, was whistled for a foul. Then it was Smart’s turn. He gave his team the go-ahead points and wrapped up title-game MVP honors.
The 6-foot-4 junior said he was determined to win the game for senior Malik Williams, who had fouled out in the fourth quarter after giving the Hornets a boost with seven third-quarter points.
“At timeouts, I was like, ‘Malik we got you. We’ve just got to fight and win the game,’ ” Smart said. “I had to play a role and find the guys and do things to win the game.”
It was literally a far cry from the opening seconds when Smart hit a 3-pointer and screamed “I’m back,” exclaiming he was past a subpar performance in a semifinal win over McKinley.
But against Brother Martin (21-8) it didn’t come easy. Smart finished with a game-high 15 points and four assists and four rebounds. He also had seven turnovers, including one that led to two free that helped BMHS inch closer.
Tre’ Swilling and Bruce Jordan Swilling each had 14 points to pace Brother Martin. Jaylen Hawkins (12) and LaMarq Williams (10) were other top scorers for Scotlandville, which last won a title in 2015.
“All the credit to Scotlandville,” Brother Martin coach Chris Biehl said. “I’d go to war any day with the 16 guys on my team. My goodness, everybody in the gym saw how hard we work. We made Scotlandville earn the state championship.”
The Crusaders had time for another play. It was designed to go Tre’ Swilling, but Scotlandville’s defense forced Jeremy Singleton to pull up for a shot that bounced off the rim.
Scotlandville scored the first five points, including that 3-pointer by Smart that opened the scoring 18 seconds into the game. The Hornets held the upper hand, but BMHS kept chipping away. A 3-pointer by Tyler Lally cut the SHS lead to 12-11 with 52.6 seconds to go in the first quarter.
Smart threaded a pass to Malik Williams, who laid the ball in with 2.8 seconds remaining, giving Scotlandville a 14-11 lead after one period. Scotlandville led by as much as six more in the half. Tre’ Swilling’s jumper in the lane with 45.3 seconds left got Brother Martin within four, at 25-21, by halftime.
The tug-of-war continued in the third quarter. Hawkins drained a 3-pointer from the left wing as the clock expired, sending Scotlandville into the fourth quarter with a 40-32 lead. The Hornets led by as much as 10 points in the fourth quarter before went on an 18-7 run to claim the lead.
“It was a 32-minute effort and that’s what it took to win this ballgame,” Sample said.