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Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016

Rivals face off in prep sectionals

Monday, March 5, 2007

MORLEY -- Scott County Central's boys and girls basketball teams, each newly-crowned district champions, must get past old nemeses to advance in the state playoffs.

The Scott County Central Braves face the Bell City Cubs and the Scott County Central Bravettes square off against the Delta Lady Bobcats in their respective sectional games.

Both matchups feature intense rivalries with recent histories in state playoff competition.

Scott Central's boys have lost three straight sectionals to Bell City while the Scott Central girls, victorious over Delta in 2004, have dropped the past two sectionals to the Lady Bobcats.

The boys tip off at Poplar Bluff High School on Tuesday at 6 p.m., followed by the girls at 7:45 p.m.

The Braves and Cubs enter with identical 24-4 records, with the Braves holding a 2-1 edge in head-to-head matchups this season.

Scott Central squeezed out five- and three-point wins (76-71 and 85-82) in the first two meetings, then lost by 20 (80-60) in a third contest.

The Braves, ranked sixth in the Missouri Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association State Poll, average 79.2 points-per-game and are currently riding a 14-game win streak.

Led by Hall of Fame coach Ronnie Cookson, Scott Central captured its fourth straight district championship with a 92-68 win over Oran on Thursday.

Team leaders D.D. Gillespie and Caleb Johnson, both juniors, along with sophomore Drew Thomas have supplied the bulk of the Braves' potent offensive attack.

Gillespie, a quick 5-9 guard, can score inside and out and also is a key to the Braves' effective full-court trap.

Johnson, a physically solid 6-1 post with great hands and leaping ability, is a strong inside scorer and rebounder.

Thomas, the leading scorer, is a tremendous leaper at 6-foot with a super-

quick first step. He is an inside-outside threat who also works hard on the backboards.

Bobby Hatchett, a 5-9 freshman, has progressed throughout the season and, while not having reached his stride offensively, is a dangerous defender with quick hands who specializes in deflections and steals. His on-court vision is second to none and he seldom misses the open man.

Junior forward Mark Freed, the fifth starter, is a solid role player and perfect complement to the other four starters.

Although the Braves have a short bench, the team loses nothing when junior guard Toby Heeb, the sixth man, enters the game. Heeb, a 3-point specialist, can be a demoralizing outside shooter when he's on as witnessed by his district final performance of 4-for-5 shooting beyond the arc, many of which were daggers to the heart of the opposition.

Bell City, ranked No. 3 in the state poll, has reeled off 20 straight wins as it pursues another high state finish.

The Cubs, coached by Brian Brandtner, finished second in the 2006 state championships.

Bell City features the most intimidating player in Southeast Missouri and possibly the state in 6-10, 300-pound senior post Will Bogan.

Bogan, who has verbally committed to play at Southeast Missouri State University next season, possesses a soft touch, good hands and nifty footwork for a big man. Obviously bigger than most of his Class 1 competition, Bogan is nearly unstoppable in the post, scoring and rebounding.

Six-foot-one junior guard Nick Niemcyzk is a deadly outside shooter with great range who can also hurt the opposition with penetration.

Phillip Gross, a 6-foot jumping jack, will keep the defense honest as a scoring threat and will help Bogan on the boards.

It shapes up as an intriguing matchup with neither team as a clear-cut favorite.

To waffle even further, it appears to be a game that could go to the wire or, given the explosive nature of each team, should one come out on fire it could be difficult for the other to play catch up.

Scott Central (19-7), coached by Semona Penrod, won its fourth straight district title and its reward once again is the Delta Bobcats.

The Scott Central girls have their hands full against the state's No. 1-ranked Class 1 team.

Delta, a disciplined squad with no glaring weaknesses, puts its sterling 26-0 record, which includes only a couple of close calls, on the line. Among those 26 victories, two have come at the expense of the Bravettes.

The Bravettes rely primarily on quickness on both the offensive and defensive ends and are led by senior guards Brittney Peet and Samantha Jones.

Peet uses her speed to blow by defenders and is very strong in the paint in spite of a slender 5-5 frame. She hauls in her share of rebounds and can also knock down the occasional 3-pointer.

Jones inflicts most of her damage from the outside as the Bravettes' best perimeter shooter.

Junior Amanda Lawless, a 5-7 post, is the team's leading rebounder.

Brianna Johnson, a savvy junior guard, makes few mistakes and is a reliable scorer, usually around the hoop.

Jamisha Williams is the tallest Bravette at 5-8 and willing to mix it up on the boards.

The x-factor for the Bravettes may be freshman, Markita Mosely, who has grown more comfortable as the season has progressed and steadily increased her production.

Coached by Randy White, who recently passed the 400-victory plateau, Delta is solid in every category.

Even without, arguably, their best player, all-state senior Shea Smith, who has been sidelined or held to limited minutes with a knee injury suffered during softball season, the Bobcats start a formidable lineup.

Senior Kaci Menz, a 5-6 guard, is the floor leader and scoring leader.

Jodi Menz, a 5-9 sophomore, is a top rebounder and capable scorer as well.

Junior Ashley Deprow, a 5-9 post player, provides a physical inside presence and scoring prowess.

Tiffany Amelunke, Sarah Keys and Kayla Seabaugh are capable role players who can step up on occasion.

Obviously, the Bravettes face a daunting task, but they relish one more shot at the 'Cats, hoping a third chance can be a charm.