MORLEY -- An undersized, out-manned Scott Central team gave Portageville all it wanted Friday night in a 68-59 loss. The Braves trailed by 13 points heading into the final quarter, but shaved the lead down to four with 1:12 left in regulation.
Portageville was able to stop the rally by hitting its free throws down the stretch and forced two key turnovers to pull away and preserve the victory.
"It was ugly," said Portageville coach Jim Bidewell. "You've got to hand it to Scott Central. They've got some kids that have pride and they played hard. We're glad. Even though it didn't look pretty, it was a win. This is a hostile gym and (Scott Central) has got a lot of tradition."
The Bulldogs improved to 9-2 with the win, while Scott Central falls to 7-4 with three straight losses.
"We made a stand," said Scott Central coach Steve Wells. "This team has matured and grown a lot from last year. We played extremely well tonight. If we can just keep improving from this point forward, playing with that same type of effort, we're going to be an awful tough ballclub to play at the end of the year."
J.T. Williams led the offensive charge for Portageville, knocking down two 3-pointers with 19 points overall. Jordan French contributed 12.
For Scott Central, sophomore Chris Pullen had a breakthrough game, leading all scorers with 23 points.
"Sometimes he's up and sometimes he's down," explained Wells. "He's just a sophomore, and consistency still isn't there for him. I thought he played a very fine game tonight to help us get back in it late."
After Scott Central opened the game with a 13-12 lead, a disgusted Bidewell opted to bench his starting five midway through the first quarter.
Portageville's bench played admirably until the quintet returned midway through the second period, trailing just 21-17.
"The guys starting get their names called out, and they're worried about who's looking at them," said Bidewell. "Those guys on the bench don't care -- they just want to get in there and play. They showed it tonight and kept us in the ballgame until our older guys woke up and realized people aren't impressed with us. We've got to get out there and earn everything we get."
Portageville's depth proved to be the difference as their bench outscored Scott Central's bench 17-2 in the game. "I kept looking up at the clock, thinking we were going to pull away," said Bidewell. "We just never could. I would like to think we played real bad, but to be honest, I think Scott Central just brought their A-game tonight."
Portageville held a 54-41 lead at halftime. In the third period, the Bulldogs' tenacious team defense hurt the Braves as the lead increased to 13.
Pullen and teammate Chris Johnson led the impressive Scott Central comeback in the fourth quarter, but the Braves got no closer than four.
"We gave a great effort out there tonight," said Wells. "We were able to capitalize on a few situations late to get back in the game. Had a few other things gone our way, maybe it would've been a little bit better for us coming down the stretch."
Dantwan Chillers and Aaron Bidewell each scored eight points for Portageville and Eric Booker was held to seven. Behind Pullen, Scott Central saw 13 points from Chris Johnson and 10 from Terrance Williams.
"There isn't much gain in a moral victory right now," said Wells. "We've just got to take what we did tonight and try to improve on it and get better. This game is ancient history right now."