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Monday, Aug. 29, 2016

Braves roll through Oran

Friday, March 2, 2007

Scott Central's Bobby Hatchett tries to scoop a shot while being defended by Oran's Robert Lange.
ORAN -- Scott County Central's quickness and athleticism conquered Oran's size and bulk in the Class 1, District 1 final.

The Braves captured their fourth straight district championship with a 92-68 win over the host Oran Eagles on Thursday.

"Oran's got a very fine ballclub, an excellent bunch of kids," said Scott Central coach Ronnie Cookson. "I really respect them. It's a shame one of us had to lose."

Scott Central (24-4), with its 14th win in a row, advances to the sectional round against postseason nemesis Bell City.

Scott Central has dropped three straight sectional games to the Cubs.

Scott Centrals' Caleb Johnson drives to the basket.
"We've won some over at Poplar Bluff and we've lost some," said Cookson, "but we're going to show up."

The Braves certainly showed up last night, burying the Eagles with a 51-27 advantage in the middle quarters.

"Scott Central is on a heckuva run right now," said Oran coach Denver Stuckey. "I wouldn't be surprised to see them bring back the title. Our guys did all they could to stay up with them, but they just wear you down."

The Eagles stayed with the Braves for one quarter, trailing 20-19, then it began to unravel. Scott Central's defensive pressure -- 25 Oran turnovers on the evening -- triggered an offensive outburst.

"Turnovers and rebounding. That's Scott Central basketball at its best," said Stuckey. "They make you think something is there and you throw it and they're there. You can try to simulate it in practice, but, until you go up against it, you can't be prepared for it.

"The key to their rebounding is how quick they get off the floor. When they see the ball, they're off the floor and they're the first ones in the air. That's something you can't teach, either you have it or you don't. They have it and we all want it."

Oran had no answers for Scott Central's "Big 3" of Drew Thomas, D.D. Gillespie and Caleb Johnson. The trio combined for 32 points in the second and third quarters. Thomas scored 15 of his game-high 23, Gillespie scored 12 of his 19 and Johnson swept the boards and scored five of his 17.

Johnson, the 6-1 junior post, gave his usual workmanlike performance on the boards, finishing with 12 rebounds while battling a taller Oran frontline of 6-3, 6-3 and 6-2.

"Rebounding and running 'em was the key for us tonight," said Johnson. "They're bigger than us but Coach (Cookson) told us that we've got to run and we could beat them. Rebounding is very important. That's basically what I do to help the team."

Sixth-man Toby Heeb came off the bench to pour in 11, including three huge 3-pointers, during the second- and third-quarter Brave barrage. On the night, Heeb scored 14 points with four treys.

"Toby's come in all year and done a real good job," Cookson said. "Some nights he's hot and sometimes he's hot, but he was hot at the right time tonight."

Heeb, a junior guard, said, "I was feeling it so I kept throwing it up there."

Oran (16-12) wrapped up a nice season under first-year coach Stuckey, exceeding its third seed with the final appearance.

"I told them that if you look at our 12 losses, other than the Saxony Lutheran loss, we've lost to district champions and runners-up in every class," said Stuckey. "They have nothing to hang their heads about. They played hard tonight.

"We hung in there for a while and didn't quit. As a coach, you look at that as a positive."

Junior post Robert Lange led the Eagles with 15 points, junior guard Cody Romas chipped in with 11 and senior forward Chris Asmus added 10.

Both teams shot the ball extremely well. Oran went 15-for-28 (53 percent) on two-pointers and 7-for-19 (37 percent) from 3-point range while the Braves shot a blistering 61 percent (27-for-44 on 2's) and 8-for-17 (47 percent) from beyond the arc.

For the Scott Central juniors, including team leader Gillespie, it was their third straight district title.

Gillespie, who played with a fractured knuckle on his shooting hand, said, "It feels great, the best thing that could happen right now."

On the injured hand, he added, "I felt pain, but I just played through it."

Johnson said, "It feels good, but we've got to go get the next one and get to the big game."

For Cookson, brought out of retirement on an interim basis, this district championship is his 17th in an illustrious Hall-of-Fame coaching career. "Five or six years ago, I would have said 'you're crazy' if anyone would have said I'd be back coaching," said Cookson, "but it happened and I'm glad it did. I've had a lot of fun on the downhill stretch.

"I hope our kids just keep going."

The sectional game tips off at 6 p.m. on Tuesday at Poplar Bluff High School.

Scott Central 92, Oran 68

(Varsity boys)

Scott Central20282321--92

ORAN (68) -- Steven Mock 5, Kody Campbell 7, Nick Anderson 2, Robert Lange 15, Chase Seyer 9, Hunter Glastetter 4, Cody Romas 11, Kurt Rendleman 5, Chris Asmus 10. FG 15, FT 20-29, F 19. (3-pointers: Asmus 2, Mock 1, Campbell 1, Romas 1, Rendleman 1. Fouled out: none).

SCOTT CENTRAL (92) -- Jarron Banks 3, D.D. Gillespie 19, Toby Heeb 14, Mark Freed 7, Bobby Hatchett 8, Drew Thomas 23, Caleb Johnson 17, Avery Williams 1. FG 27, FT 14-22, F 20. (3-pointers: Heeb 4, Gillespie 2, Freed 1, Thomas 1. Fouled out: none).