On a Saturday night when several of the Baton Rouge area’s top big basketball men got a chance to shine, 5-foot-9 Vincent Sanders provided the light at the end of the tunnel.
After three key starters fouled out, Sanders controlled the ball and made four crucial free throws down the stretch to help lift Scotlandville over Madison Prep 73-70 in front of a standing room only crowd of more than 2,500 at Baton Rouge Community College’s Bonne Santé Health and Wellness Center.
“When my fellow point guard Tre’Lun (Banks) fouled out, I knew we were going to have to take care of the ball and make free throws,” Sanders said. “They (Madison Prep players ) had a good run. They hit us with a lot of big 3s and big buckets, but I knew we had our heart in it. It was a lot pressure, but when I got to the free-throw line I knew I had to make them for my team.”
Sanders finished with 14 points and made four free throws in the final 1:05 for the Class 5A Hornets (17-2), who played for the first time since winning the East Baton Rouge Parish Tourney last week. Banks led Scotlandville with 23, while 6-5 Brian Bridgewater (19) and 6-8 Vanderbilt signee Damien Jones (10) also scored in double figures.
Meanwhile, 6-9 LSU signee Jarell Martin scored a game-high 26 points for Madison Prep (26-4). The Chargers also got 12 from Chad Williams and nine from Brandon Sampson.
“I’ve got to take my hat off to Madison, because they came ready to play,” Scotlandville coach Carlos Sample said. “At the same time, I have to take my hat off to my kids. Our best players fouled out of the game, and we still found a way to win.
“People have to remember it’s not always about Scotlandville winning big. We have to play as a team, and tonight we had a lot of guys contribute.”
Though his team lost, Madison coach Jeffery Jones was not disappointed.
“Scotlandville has played in the last three Class 5A title games, and this is our third year to have a basketball team,” Jones said. “I’m proud of our kids and the way they battled. Down the stretch, we didn’t do the things we needed to to close out the game. But we’ll take this as a lesson.”
Martin added, “It was a real intense game … Both teams came to play.”
The marquee matchup did not disappoint. But it had a series of peaks and valleys. By the end, Banks, Jones and Bridgewater had all fouled out for Scotlandville.
It was a contrast from the first quarter when the Hornets raced out to a fast start, making 10-of-15 first-quarter shots. With Banks and Jones leading the way, SHS led by as much as 14 points in the period. Banks had nine points and Jones scored eight in the opening quarter.
Madison Prep didn’t score until Martin made two free throws with at 6:38 mark. By the end of the quarter, the Chargers pulled within 10 points, at 24-14.
Martin scored the first five points of the second quarter, including a thunderous dunk that made the crowd erupt. A layup by Williams tied the score at 29-29 with 3:32 left in the half. Banks and Bridgewater combined to score the final eight points to help the Hornets take a 37-34 halftime lead.
Madison finally took the lead on a three-point play by Williams at 42-41 with 5:38 left. The teams traded baskets for a few minutes. A 3-pointer by Sampson ignited a Madison Prep run. The Chargers went on an 8-2 run in the final 2:14 of the quarter and led 56-50 when the fourth quarter began.
Bridgewater was a huge factor in the fourth quarter before fouling out in the final minute. He scored nine points in the period, including a three-point play with 3:55 remaining that tied the score at 65-65.
Sanders scored on a layup off a Madison turnover at the 2:54 mark to give Scotlandville the lead. Williams tied the score six seconds later before 6-8 Jared Sam made a layup with 2:54 left that gave the Hornets the lead for good at 69-67, setting the stage for Sanders’ late free throws.