The Kelly Hawks were the latest victim in an 80-45 loss to the Scott Central Braves in a Scott-Mississippi Conference encounter on Tuesday.
"Our press rattled them a little," said Scott Central coach Ronnie Cookson, whose Braves forced 17 turnovers.
The Hawks (7-7, 1-1 in conference) held their own early, leading 13-12 late in the first quarter, when the Braves converted two consecutive turnovers to cap a 6-0 run ending the period.
"We started a little slow, but we picked up the pace about midway," said Cookson. "I was tickled that we were able to play toe-to-toe with them at the beginning."
Scott Central (10-3, 2-0) began to take charge in the second quarter, outscoring the Hawks 20-12, for a 38-25 halftime lead.
Scott Central sophomore forward Drew Thomas led the Hawks with 15 of his game-high 26 points before the break. Junior post Caleb Johnson made his presence felt with 11 first-half points.
Johnson finished with 21 as a trio of Braves scored 20 or more points, including junior guard D.D. Gillespie's 21.
Johnson and Gillespie scored 10 and eight points, respectively, in the third quarter as the Braves extended the lead to 64-38.
Said Cookson, "I've told the kids that our game is to push the ball up and down the floor and utilize our quickness. If we don't do that, we're going to be kind of sluggish and we have to get the defensive rebounds so we can run."
The shorter Braves, with no player taller than 6-foot-1 against a Kelly frontline of 6-6, 6-3 and 6-2, controlled the backboards with a 35-20 rebounding edge. Scott Central played without junior post Richard Brownlee, the tallest Brave at 6-foot-3, who is out indefinitely with an illness.
Thomas completed a double-double with 11 rebounds. Johnson had eight caroms and Gillespie and Mark Freed grabbed six apiece.
Scott Central also posted impressive numbers from the free-throw line, converting 25-of-32 chances, while the Hawks shot a dismal 6-for-15.
No Hawk scored in double digits as Zach Hamm led with nine points. Usually reliable inside scorer Spencer Ayers was limited to three points.
Kelly held off Scott Central to post a 47-43 win in the junior varsity contest. Zach Essner paced the Hawks with 18 and Eric Turley added 10 points.
Robert Jones and Andropolis McClinton scored 13 and 10, respectively, for the Braves.
Scott Central hosts Charleston while Kelly visits Chaffee, both Friday games.
Commenting on the fitness of his up-tempo style ballclub, which has a very thin bench, Cookson said, "I'm hoping to get us in even better shape. We're going to have to be in excellent shape Friday night (against Charleston)."
Note: At the midway point of the season, interim coach Cookson, who was pulled out of retirement to once again lead the Scott Central program he built to a championship-caliber level, expressed his appreciation to assistant coach Lennies McFerren, Jr., practice coach David Heeb and bench and girls coach Semona Penrod for their contributions and support to the program.