CHAFFEE -- A knockdown-dragout battle between Scott County Central and Scott City highlighted semifinal action at the Scott-Mississippi Conference Tournament on Thursday.
The Scott Central Braves prevailed 71-67 in an overtime thriller to advance to tonight's final against the Kelly Hawks, the other semifinal victor with a 69
-49 win over Oran.
Energy and intensity was at a fever pitch, on both sides, in the evening's crowd-pleasing finale between the Braves and the Scott City Rams.
"What a great game," said Scott City coach Lance Amick. "It had to be exciting for the fans. A good basketball game."
Scott Central, 0-2 previously against the Rams this season, had a chance to clinch the win in regulation but two misses on the front end of one-and-one free-throw situations inside the final 17 seconds kept Scott City's hopes alive. "We made it harder than it had to be," said Scott Central coach David Heeb. "We're learning how to win. A month ago we wouldn't have won this game. We shot poorly and we didn't get every call, but, at the end, we were right there with a chance and that's all you can ask."
The score was knotted at 56 going into the 4-minute overtime period, thanks to a game-tying basket by Scott City's Alex King with 4.5 seconds left in regulation.
"What an effort by my team," said Amick. "They could have quit when we were down four in regulation, but they took it to overtime."
Scoring in the overtime period see-sawed to a 62-62 tie with 1:34 to go. Scott Central senior guard Josh Chamberlain sank two foul shots for a 64-62 lead, then the Braves went up four at 66-62 on freshman Drew Thomas' two foul shots with 43 seconds left.
Forced to foul with time ticking down following a missed shot, Scott City fouled the other senior on the Scott Central roster, Pershard Owens, who hit two more free throws to go up 68-62 lead with 37 seconds on the clock.
The Rams' Andy Stephens knocked down a trey to cut the margin to 68-65 with 15 seconds left, but the Braves made 3-of-4 foul shots in the closing seconds to nail down the win.
The Braves hit 11-of-14 from the charity stripe in overtime -- 18-of-24 for the game.
The contest was close throughout as Scott City relied on its bigger inside players for the bulk of its scoring. Six-foot-five sophomore King led the Rams with 28 points and Ryan Modglin, a 6-2 sophomore, scored 16.
Ethan Watkins provided the outside threat for the Rams with 14 points, including two 3s.
The first quarter ended in a tie at 15 when Scott Central's tallest player, 6-1 sophomore Caleb Johnson, banked in a 3-pointer off the right wing.
Owen's 11 second-quarter points paced the Braves to a 33-31 halftime lead.
"Pershard Owens won this game for us," said Heeb. "He's learning how to play off D.D. (Gillespie) and Caleb (Johnson) and not try to do everything. When he understands that, he can play like he did tonight. Pershard (Owens), Josh (Chamberlain) and Drew (Thomas) kept us in it and then, at the end, Caleb (Johnson) and D.D. (Gillespie) started to assert themselves."
Owens finished with 18 points behind scoring leader Gillespie with 27. Johnson added 13.
With Johnson and Owens saddled with three fouls, Scott Central went into a stall for about the final 2:30 of the period and held a 39-37 edge going into the fourth.
Gillespie, the quick all-region guard transfer from Bell City, scored 10 in the fourth quarter, while King matched that output to lead Scott City.
Amick felt a shortage of available guards hurt his team against Scott Central's relentless press.
"We don't make excuses for ourselves, but everybody knew we were at a disadvantage tonight not having a fourth guard," he said. "We got wore down. A lot of my kids played 36 minutes."
Scott Central, riding a two-game win streak following a five-game skid, improved to 7-9, while Scott City fell to 9-7.
The Kelly Hawks rode a big second-quarter outburst to their win over the Oran Eagles.
"Our intensity level was tremendous on the defensive end and that carries over to the offense," said Kelly coach Cory Johnson. "Our focus every day in practice is on defense and on the glass and that's what we did well the first half to get the big lead. In our 11 wins this year, we've won the boards every time."
The Hawks ravaged the Eagles on the defensive backboards, in particular, holding them to single shots on most first-half possessions.
"Rebounding has been a thing that I've been concerned with since we started the season," said Oran coach Jason Andrews. "We've been outrebounded almost every game and until we get that aspect of the game corrected, we're going to struggle."
Kelly held a slim 10-9 advantage after the first quarter, then outscored Oran 32-12 in the second.
The Hawks' Russell Carroll, senior reserve guard, did most of the damage. On the night, he dropped 5-of-5 3-pointers, four in the second period.
"I came out feeling good before the game and I got in a zone--feeling it," said Carroll, who finished with a game-high 17 points. "I've got to give a lot of credit to my teammates for getting me open and getting good looks."
Said Johnson, "Russ (Carroll) knows his job. He knows that No. 1, he's a defender, and No. 2, he's a shooter. He comes in and looks for his spot, gets his feet set and knocks 'em down. He's the most consistent shooter we've got."
Opposing coach Andrews said the second-quarter barrage was a huge part of the game.
"We let them have a couple of 3s to get their confidence up," he said, "then we got a hand in their face and they were still hitting 'em."
Oran, however didn't back down, edging the Hawks in the second half, 28
"I was very, very proud of our effort tonight," said Andrews. "The kids did not quit. They battled very hard. We just didn't make good decisions."
Behind Carroll's 17 points, Brandon Ayers added 13 and Jacob Glastetter 10.
Stephen Mock topped Oran with 13 points and Chase Seyer had 12.
Kelly upped its record to 11-5, while Oran dropped to 6-8.