PORTAGEVILLE - The Scott County Central Braves basketball team picked up a big road win on Friday night at the Portageville Bulldogs, 75-50.
The Braves seemed to be a step ahead of the Bulldogs the entire game, with an aggressive full-court trap that gave Portageville problems all game long.
"Scott Central played faster, stronger and were better prepared to play than we were," said Portageville head coach Jim Bidewell. "They were just tougher tonight and wanted it more. We did beat them in one area, they were not as lazy as we were."
Scott Central jumped on Portageville early with solid post play and a trapping defense that hounded the Bulldogs all over the floor. Sophomore Drew Thomas was the main scoring threat for the Braves in the first quarter.
Thomas hit a myriad of shots in the paint throughout the quarter and helped Scott Central race out to a 18-11 first quarter lead with 10 points. The Bulldogs did not help their cause in the quarter with eight turnovers that led to many transition baskets for the Braves.
"I thought our traps really hurt them early and had them somewhat confused," said Scott Central interim head coach Ronnie Cookson. "Portageville has a lot of young kids and they are still learning how to play the game. They have a fine club and I am sure better days are ahead for them."
Portageville bounced back in the second quarter and cut into the Brave lead and trailed 21-18 with 4:50 to play in the quarter. Scott Central responded with a 9-2 run fueled by Thomas who finished with 18 points in the first half.
The Bulldogs had issues not only breaking the defensive pressure of Scott Central, but also with the offensive rebounding of the Braves. Scott Central led 34-28 at the half and out rebounded Portageville 11-3 on the offensive glass in the first half.
Portageville switched from a zone defense to a man-to-man defense to start the third quarter. The Braves seemed unfazed by the switch and proceeded to go on a 13-2 midway through the quarter and led 49-32 with two minutes to play in the third.
After a slow first half, Caleb Johnson heated up for Scott Central and had seven points in the third quarter including a long range 3-pointer.
The Bulldogs struggled to break the pressure defense and committed seven turnovers, while scoring only eight points in the quarter. The Braves enjoyed a 49-36 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
In the fourth, the Braves put the game away with a 9-0 run to start the quarter and never looked back. Johnson was a catalyst in the fourth with nine points and another long range 3-pointer. Scott Central outscored the Bulldogs 41-22 in the second half.
"Our kids played hard tonight," said Cookson. "This was one of our better games of the year. I thought the kids played real strong and earned the win."
Scott Central's pressure defense was the key to snapping their six-game losing streak, dating back to 2000, to Portageville. The Braves tallied 18 steals as a team and forced the Bulldogs to commit 25 turnovers in the game.
"We were not able to handle the pressure," said Bidewell. "Besides (Jacob) Estes who handled the pressure defense okay, everybody else did a very poor job. We played scared tonight and they got after us. This is not the last time we will see pressure like this. We have got to improve."
Thomas finished a stellar night with 29 points, 11 rebounds and seven rebounds for the Braves.
"Drew had an outstanding game," said Cookson, "probably his best all year. I thought all of our kids played very well and this was our best effort this year."
Johnson had only three points in the first half, but finished with 19 points. Junior D.D. Gillespie played a steady if not spectacular game and finished with 12 points. Freshman point guard Bobby Hatchett opened up some eyes with his floor presence and ended his night seven points, seven rebounds and four steals.
Marcus Greene was the only Portageville player to reach double digits with 11 points. Estes had nine points and Leonard Boyd chipped in with eight points off the bench.
"Cookson is an old-school coach and he gave us an old-school whooping tonight," said Bidewell. "They have a good team and unlike us, they had the desire to win the game."
Bidewell wasted little time in trying to correct the mistakes of his team. Immediately after the game, Portageville hit the floor for practice.
Scott Central (9-3) hosts the Kelly Hawks on Tuesday at 6 p.m.
Portageville (9-2) hosts the Caruthersville Tigers also on Tuesday at 6 p.m.
The East Prairie Eagles used a solid first half to get past the Cooter Wildcats on Friday night at home, 74-59.
The Eagles outscored the Wildcats 44-29 in the first half, including 25-15 in the second quarter, to secure the victory.
Tony Jones led East Prairie down in the post with 22 points. Randy Woods was second on the scoring list with 20 points, while backcourt mate Paris Tipler poured in 18 points.
East Prairie (8-4) will be off until Friday when the Eagles entertain the Delta Bobcats at home.
Tip is set for 6 p.m.