GONZALES — With Scotlandville’s starting center John Horton expected to miss a couple of weeks with a foot injury, five-star point guard Ja’Vonte Smart has decided to expand his game.
Not only can Smart run the show from the perimeter, but the LSU signee showed his post-up skills and ability to take the ball off the glass to facilitate the Hornets’ fastbreak.
“Since our big man’s out I have to play the four spot and play a bigger role,” Smart said. “I have to rebound more and post up. It’s helping me to develop an all-around game.”
Smart produced a double-double with a game-high 30 points and added 11 rebounds, helping Scotlandville overpower East Ascension 68-46 on Tuesday at East Ascension.
Scotlandville (13-3) heads into Wednesday’s Sugar Bowl tournament against Helen Cox riding the momentum of a five-game win streak that includes the East Baton Rouge Parish tournament championship.
“The kids have to be on a mission, to get better every night,” Scotlandville coach Carlos Sample said. “It’s a crucial week for us, and in a couple of weeks we’ll get Horton back. The ultimate goal’s in March, and we have to continue to get better, keep working at it.”
Smart made 10 of 16 shots and jump-started his outing after a two-point opening quarter in which he had three rebounds and handed out a no-look assist to Trevon Smith for a lay-in to close out the quarter.
“When you play Scotlandville, you can pencil in 20 points for Ja’Vonte Smart,” EA coach Barry Whittington said. “We’ve got to figure out a way to limit the other guys on their team, and we didn’t do that great of a job. Then you have to have several guys on your team combat their scoring with some timely buckets and we didn’t get those.”
Smart opened the second quarter with five straight points and completed a three-point play for a 22-10 advantage with just less than six minutes remaining.
Hobart Grayson scored eight of his team-high 16 points in the first half, and with Jimel London adding nine of his 15, helped to keep East Ascension (9-5) within striking distance at half, trailing just 33-26.
With Scotlandville switching from its man defense to a 3-2 zone, EA experienced trouble getting inside of the Hornets defense and struggled with 31 percent shooting (8 of 26) in the second half.
The Spartans made 38 percent for the game and were 3 of 16 from 3-point range.
Scotlandville increased its 47-37 third-quarter lead to 55-37 with 5:20 remaining on consecutive baskets from Reece Beekman, who finished with 14 points.
The Hornets’ lead reached 62-41 with 3:05 left when Beekman fed Smith for a layup and Smart put the finishing touches on his 30-point outing with a pair of three throws and driving layup.
“I can post up and go by guys; I can get on the perimeter,” Smart said. “There’s a lot of things I can do with my game.”