Scott Central caged the Tigers with a full-court press and strong rebounding. The Braves forced Risco to commit 17 turnovers in the game and outrebounded the Tigers 42-34.
"We emphasize controlling the boards," said Scott Central head coach David Heeb. "We sold out going to the glass and our young kids stepped it up a notch tonight."
Trailing 11-9 early in the first quarter, Scott Central responded with a 7-0 run and led 16-11 with 2:50 left in the quarter. Risco started the game out in a 1-3-1 zone to try and contain the penetration of sophomore D.D. Gillespie.
Gillespie was a non-factor in the first, as he was saddled with two quick fouls which regulated him to the bench. Freshman Drew Thomas picked up the slack for the Braves off the bench with six points. Sophomore Caleb Johnson also had six points in the quarter for Scott Central, as the Braves led 22-21 after one quarter of action.
After a scoreless first quarter, Gillespie exploded in the second. On consecutive offensive possession for the Braves, Gillespie had conventional 3-
point plays to put Scott Central up 30-24 at 6:20 of the second quarter.
By the five minute mark of the second quarter, Gillespie scored 11 of Scott Central 13 points in the quarter and the Braves led 35-26. Gillespie finished the second with 14 points and Scott Central enjoyed a 48-37 advantage heading into the half.
"For just playing one minute in the first quarter," said Heeb, "D.D. had a great first half. He got two fouls very quickly in the first that put him on the bench early. But he came out in the second very aggressive and kind of took us on his back."
In addition to 14 first half points, Gillespie had six rebounds at the break for the Braves. Thomas ended his great first half with 11 points and five rebounds, while Johnson had nine points and seven rebounds for Scott Central at halftime.
Risco struggled to break the Braves full-court press in the second quarter and committed eight turnovers by the half. Most of the turnovers resulted in easy buckets for Scott Central on the other end. While Halford enjoyed a nice first quarter, he was held to just two points in the second and ended the half with 12 points.
"I believe we just got worn down in the second quarter," said Risco head coach Brandon Blankenship. "We didn't try anything different in the second (quarter), I think our guys got tired and when a team gets tired, that is when mistakes can happen."
Senior Rodulfo Johnson had 10 points and six rebounds (four offensive) at the half for Risco.
Gillespie continued where he left in the second quarter, by scoring 13 points in the third to help the Braves extend the lead over the Tigers. While Gillespie was filling up the basket, the X-factor for the Braves in the quarter was the defensive play of Thomas.
Thomas was giving the responsibility of guarding Halford and held Risco's leading scorer, scoreless in the third quarter.
"Thomas just 'D'ed' up Halford in the second half," said Heeb. "The kid just did an outstanding job of denying Halford the ball and made it very difficult for him to get the kind of shot he is used to."
The Braves outscored Risco 21-17 in the third and led 69-54 heading into the final quarter.
The Tigers cut the lead to 11 points, 69-58, to start the fourth, but Scott Central responded with a 9-2 run to lead 78-60 with 3:40 to play. The Braves cruised the rest of the way and captured the 93-76 victory.
"Just an outstanding win for us," said Heeb. "We played with great toughness in a gym where everyone was against us. I mean we had people behind our bench saying some things that were just not appropriate or called for. We fought for this victory when everyone was against us."
Gillespie finished the contest with 31 points and eight rebounds for the Braves. Johnson had 21 points and a game-high 13 rebounds (five offensive). Thomas also had 21 points, with seven rebounds (four offensive) and four assists for Scott Central.
Senior Josh Chamberlain had an excellent all-around game off the bench for Scott Central with four points, eight assists, seven steals and three rebounds.
Halford led Risco with 22 points and had seven rebounds. Johnson finished with 18 points and led the Tigers with 10 rebounds (six offensive). Senior Robert Fowler ended his high school career with 15 points and six rebounds. Ricky Davis led the Tigers with six assists.
"Our seniors carried us all year long," said Blankenship. "I am proud of them, they went out like young men. Halford, Johnson and Fowler played their hearts out. Scott Central looked pretty good for just being a bunch of freshmen and sophomores. That Johnson kid (Caleb) was a monster down low for them. But like I said, our group was a bunch of special young men and it is going to be tough not coaching some of these kids anymore."
Scott Central had 19 assists as a team compared to 14 assists for Risco. The Braves had nine steals and committed 12 turnovers. Risco had three steals as a team.
Risco ends their year at 14-11.
Scott Central, who has won six of their last seven games, improves to 15-13 on the season. The Braves will face Clarkton in the finals of Class 1, District 1 on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at Gideon. Clarkton defeated Gideon 75-65 to advance to the finals.