MORLEY -- The better teams usually find a way to win, even if it's ugly.
That sums up Scott County Central's 76-62 victory over Scott City in a Scott-
Mississippi Conference matchup at Ronnie Cookson Gymnasium on Tuesday.
"We just didn't look good and I don't think they looked good either," said Scott Central's interim coach Ronnie Cookson. "It might be, being out of school, that makes that happen."
Perhaps a grueling schedule involving four games in five days for the Braves -- three in five for Scott City -- at last weeks's Southeast Missourian Christmas Tournament plus another game two days later, left both teams a bit fatigued.
Cookson said, "That may have something to do with it, but we should be ready. We have to get ready for the downhill stretch."
Scott City coach Lance Amick thinks, for his team, it's a matter of desire.
"What we're not real good at right now is getting used to playing that type of team, night in and night out, and realizing how hard you've got to battle to beat teams like that," said Amick. "Generally, I think we're playing hard but I question our desire to win. We're going to have to find that extra gear."
Scott Central (8-3) certainly excelled in one facet of the game -- rebounding.
The Braves, with no height advantage, banged the backboards mercilessly, getting second, third and often fourth-shot opportunities. "They had close to 30 offensive rebounds," said Amick. "That's just wanting it, heart and will."
A back-and-forth first quarter, with 10 lead changes, ended with the Braves up 19-17.
Explosive Caleb Johnson scored eight points, many on stickbacks, in the quarter.
Scott City (4-5) showed patience and crisp passing to beat the Scott Central press several times while setting up the 6-foot-6 Alex King for eight first-
Drew Thomas' six straight points opened the second quarter for the Braves, then a stretch of tough boardwork by slightly-built 5-10 guard D.D. Gillespie resulted in his going to the line six times, converting four, to increase the lead 29-23.
The Braves led 33-25 at the half.
"We started the game lackluster and dug a hole for ourselves," said Amick. "We played a pretty decent second half, but you're not going to get back in it very often."
Scott Central continued its relentless rebounding effort after the intermission as 6-3 junior post Richard Brownlee stepped up in the third quarter with two putback baskets and three blocks to complement seven points each by Thomas and Johnson as the Braves opened a 57-43 margin going into the fourth quarter.
Scott City played the Braves even in the final period, but were unable to slice into the deficit.
Johnson led a quartet of Braves in double figures with 25 points. Gillespie added 16, Thomas 15 and Brownlee 12.
King paced the Rams with 17 points, followed by Jamie Pinkston with 15, Caleb Estes with 10 and Jay and Shae Simmons with nine apiece. The Simmonses split six 3-pointers.
Neither team shot free throws well -- Scott City went 6-for-14, Scott Central 10-for-20.
"I wasn't pleased with the game as a game," said Cookson, "but I was pleased with some of the things we did. The kids really battled the boards. Of course, Scott City is a physical ballclub so that probably took us out of some of our wide-open game."
Scott Central returns to action against host Portageville on Friday, while Scott City travels to Richland on Thursday.