Photos: EBR basketball tournament _lowres

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Scotlandville coach Carlos Sample kneels in front of the bench against McKinley during the third day of the East Baton Rouge Parish Schools boys basketball tournament on, Dec. 28,at Southern's F.G. Clark Activity Center.

Scotlandville coach Carlos Sample doesn’t believe revenge is the right motivation to use going into any rematch, especially when it’s in a Class 5A championship game.

“Revenge is not the right way to approach it,” Sample said. “Are there some things we need to do differently? Of course. Do we have some to prove to ourselves and other people? Definitely.

“It is a lot like last year in that nobody expected us to be here. It comes down to us playing the best game we can play. And it has to be better than we did last year.”

Third-seeded Scotlandville (32-4) plays No. 1 Natchitoches Central (29-2) in the Class 5A title game that helps highlight Friday’s schedule at the Allstate Sugar Bow/LHSAA Boys Top 28 tournament.

Game time is 8 p.m. at Burton Coliseum. Action begins at 4 p.m. with defending champion New Living Word of Ruston (31-10), the No. 3 seed, taking on top-seeded Atlanta (31-5) in the Class C final. Fourth-seeded Midland (25-5) seeks its second straight Class B title. The Rebels face No. 3 Anacoco (31-10) at 6 p.m.

Scotlandville is making an unprecedented sixth straight appearance in the 5A title game, a fact Natchitoches Central coach Micah Coleman is quick to point out.

“There are a lot of similarities to last year,” Coleman said. “We both have pretty much the same teams back with the exception of point guards.

“What people don’t understand is how tough it was for both of us to get back here. In 5A, there’s not as much difference between No. 1 and No. 32 as people think. And for Scotlandville to make it six years in a row says a lot about their program. Our goal is to be like them some day.”

The Chiefs got a jump start in that direction with last year’s 60-53 5A title-game over Scotlandville, which had won the two previous 5A titles.

The key to the game was the inside play of the Chiefs, led by 6-foot-9 Cameron Lard, who scored 24 points and pulled down 10 rebounds.

“We got out-toughed last year,” Scotlandville post player Garrick Green said. “We have to play physically tougher and finish plays. That’s something we didn’t do against them last year.

“Our defense has to be better, and we just need to play a better all-around game. When we came to Scotlandville, coach Sample told us we’d get the chance to play for championships. We need to take advantage of this chance.”

Both teams rallied in the final minutes of their semifinals, with Scotlandville needing overtime to oust C.E. Byrd. Freshman point guard Ja’Vonte Smart made the game-tying 3-pointer and carried Scotlandville in overtime after Jordan Adebutu and LaMarcus Lee fouled out.

Adebutu averages 16.9 points, while Smart is at 15.8. Lee adds 13.6 per game and Green is not far behind at 13.4, illustrating the Hornets’ balance.

Lard played just 15 minutes before fouling out of NCHS’ semifinal. He averages 16.5 points and 10 rebounds per game, while 6-5 sophomore Brandon Rachal is at 10.0. Danny Cohen (14.5) and Austin Guy (12.7) are other Chiefs’ offensive leaders.

Coleman said he expects Scotlandville to use a different approach from the man-to-man defense the Hornets used a year ago. The development of 6-5 sophomore post player LaMarq Williams gives the Hornets some added defensive prowess.

“It usually comes down to which team makes the fewest mistakes and executes better,” Coleman said. “I don’t see this one being any different.”

Sample added, “You have to play the best 32 minutes you can.”