"We just try to play the same every game," Hatchett said. "We can't change anything. We just have to keep playing hard, have fun, play together and just get better."
That formula, yet again, worked out for the Braves as they dropped the perennial power-house Charleston Bluejays 87-55 on Monday night in the semi-final round of the Southeast Missourian Christmas Tournament at the Show Me Center.
Scott Central jumped out to a quick 15-0 lead to start the game and that would pretty much be the difference. Although, Charleston did have a few chances to score earlier but their shots just couldn't find the mark.
"We missed some shots early when they got up 10-0," Charleston head coach Danny Farmer said. "If we had hit those shots and made it a closer game in the beginning, maybe something else could have happened. But, they got up so big and they never missed. They got so many easy buckets."
The 'easy buckets' were caused by the Braves stringent defense which rarely allowed a pass to be completed once the ball crossed mid-court if it got that far. That relentlessness led to a 30-12 lead at the end of the first quarter for the Braves and a 57-32 advantage at halftime.
Scott Central standout Drew Thomas scored 18 points by halftime while Hatchett chipped in with 12 points, five assists and three steals by the break as well. Porter added 11 points and four rebounds and Williams had nine points, five rebounds and three steals all by halftime as well.
"They're a very good team," Farmer said. "I think they're the best team we've played thus far. To watch them and then to see them on court playing -- they pass so well, they shoot it well and they're very quick. We had trouble guarding them and we haven't had trouble guarding anybody all year."
One of the main guys the Bluejays had trouble guarding was Hatchett.
"We can't keep him in front of us," Farmer said about Hatchett. "He can penetrate to the bucket any time he wants to and then he can dump it off to (Otto) Porter and the big (Desmin) Williams kid and they're so tall and lanky, we had trouble rebounding."
Hatchett ended up with 16 points, nine assists and five steals while Porter was the Braves second leading scorer with 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds and blocked five shots.
Williams finished with 11 points and six rebounds and Randy Timmons scored 13 points and had four steals.
Thomas led all scorers with 24 points.
As for the No. 4 seeded Bluejays, Antonio Riggens and Deonte Jones led Charleston with 12 points respectively. Donald Dixon finished with 11.
Charleston will face the No. 3 seed Jackson Indians for a chance at the third place trophy tonight at 6 p.m.
"We want to stay up so we can have a shot at third place," Farmer said. "We want to go 3-1 and not leave here 2-2. If we stay up I think we can have a good shot at third. We don't need to let this [game] stop us from the way we were playing before we came into this game."
The Braves will be vying for their fifth Southeast Missourian Christmas Tournament championship tonight at 7:30 p.m. against the No. 2 seed Notre Dame Bulldogs who defeated the Braves last year in the second round.
"Notre Dame's tough, they're always tough" Braves head coach Ronnie Cookson said. "We're going to have to play one of our better games that we've ever played or that we ever will play. They're so deep, they've got size and they've got some shooters -- just everything. Notre Dame's got a heck of a ball club. They had a good ball club last year that put us out of it and they've got a good ball club this year."
Will Hatchett and the rest of the Braves change their game plan for this one?
"You can't sleep on any teams," said Hatchett. "You've got to play the same against all teams and do all the little things. We're going to play the same way and try to win it and take it (the championship) back to Scott Central."
Late game free throws won it for Cape Central.
With the Tigers holding a slim 35-34 lead over the Kelly Hawks going into the fourth quarter, Cape Central drained 19-of-22 free throws in the final period alone to hold on for the win.
"They did a great job of hitting clutch free throws down the stretch," Kelly head coach Nate Wills said. "They were confident under pressure in hitting those. They were 23-30 from the free throw line and we were 6-14 -- that's a huge discrepancy. That's a great job by Cape of knocking down free throws when you have to."
Cape Central's Andrew Williams scored all nine of his points in the fourth quarter from the free throw line. He went 9-for-10.
"The last couple of games we've struggled from the line," Cape Central head coach Drew Church said. "But to go 19-22 that just speaks well for the kids. Andrew Williams played well. He came in and hit buckets. I think he had nine points and was 9-10 from the free throw line. At the end we set up plays to get him the basketball and he had the confidence to make them. Free throws were huge for us today."
Kelly kept the game extremely close throughout despite the consistent free throw shooting from the Tigers. After Terrance Howard drained 2-of-2 from the stripe with 10 seconds left in the game and the score 55-51 in favor of Cape Central, Kelly senior Levi Felter drove up the floor and sank his second 3-pointer of the night.
Kelly had to make a quick foul on the ensuing Tigers possession to keep their hopes alive to send Williams to the line. Williams sank his first but missed his second to make it a 56-54 game.
Felter grabbed the rebound, took the ball up the court to the half line and threw up a prayer. The prayer was unanswered as the shot banked off the backboard and off the rim as the buzzer sounded.
"I did like the way we played late," Wills said. "It started about halfway threw the fourth [quarter]. I said 'guys we're going to have to make a move here and we ran into our scramble defense and got us some turnovers and hit some three's late that we didn't hit early in the game. It was nice to see us build on getting some momentum there."
DeBrock led all scorers with 26 points including six 3-pointers and Felter finished with 10 points and six rebounds.
Rick Russell led the Tigers with 15 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Josh Harris added 13 points.
"This doesn't stop us from what we're eventually trying to do at the end of the year," said Wills. "These are the kind of games that you like to see at the Christmas tournament. It's a close game, it's a competitive game and it's one that we can build on."
Notre Dame rallied from a seven-point halftime deficit to defeat Jackson 50-39 and earn a spot opposite Scott County Central in the championship game of the Southeast Missourian Christmas Tournament at the Show Me Center.
The Bulldogs avenged a 61-53 loss in last year's title-game meeting with Jackson.
But the Bulldogs will have to play defense as stoutly as they did Monday night to have a chance in the final against a team that has scored more than 80 points in all three tournament games so far.
Notre Dame limited Jackson to 13 points in the second half, outscoring Jackson 20-9 in the third period to take a 39-35 lead into the final period.
Jacob Tolbert scored 14 points and John Unterreiner added 12.
Jackson played without Marcus Harris, who led the team in scoring Saturday in the quarterfinals and was diagnosed with pneumonia. Kyle Keith was the only player in double figures with 11 points, including three 3-pointers.
Bell City coach Brian Brandtner was naturally pleased to watch his team drain five 3-pointer early in its consolation bracket semifinal against Oran Monday at the Southeast Missourian Christmas Tournament.
Despite leading 17-4, he was also a little concerned.
"If you just start relying on 3-pointers, sooner or later you're going to start missing and team's are going to be able to get back in the game," Brandtner said.
The Cubs did allow the Eagles to get back in the game, though they held on in the end and won 56-48.
It turns out Brandtner may have been given his team some bad advice.
"I talked maybe too much at halftime about getting the ball inside, and it looked like we were a little too hesitant to shoot in the second half," he said. "That may have got us a little bit out of rhythm, but I thought overall our defensive intensity was decent enough tonight."
Ronnie Gross, who hit three 3-pointers, said the team simply cooled off.
"We just wasn't making the shots we started off making," he said. "They just stopped falling, so we had to find a different way to score."
Gross scored a game-high 26 points in the game. Seven-foot junior Skylor Blackler, who benefitted from the Cubs working the ball inside, also finished in double-digits with 10 points.
The Eagles, who trailed by nine points at halftime, went on an 11-4 run to begin the second half. At one point they cut the lead to a single point, but never led in the game.
Preston Scherer and Jon Morrow led Oran with 11 points each while Gabe Kielhofner added eight.
Bell City will face Scott City on Tuesday for the consolation championship at 3 p.m. at the Show-Me Center.
"We're here tomorrow, so after losing that first game, we're in the best situation we can be in," Brandtner said. "You never want to lose that first day, but it's not what happens to you it's how you respond to it, and I think we responded fairly well."
For a second consecutive game at the Southeast Missourian Christmas Tournament, Meadow Heights attempted a furious fourth quarter comeback.
The Panthers' press, which allowed them to erase a 17-point deficit Saturday against Delta could not pull off the same feat Monday against Scott City at the Show Me Center.
The Rams advanced to the consolation championship game with a 59-50 victory.
"I believe the message was 'slow down,'" said Scott City coach Lance Amick said of his team's fourth-quarter play. "Sometimes, I feel like we get in too big of a hurry and some of that comes from being uncomfortable with the ball in that type of situation."
Scott City did not make a field goal in the final quarter of play, but the Rams made 14 of their 18 free throws in the period.
"Any time you make those, it puts pressure on their mental toughness because if we keep making those free throws, you hope the air goes out of their sails a little bit each time those free throws go in," Amick said.
Shae Simmons, who led Scott City with 20 points, said he was "very surprised" his team made 23 of its 31 free throws in the game after making just three of 15 in their previous game.
With the victory, Scott City avenged a 20-point loss to Meadow Heights earlier this year at the Woodland Tournament.
"Any time you can beat a team that you lost to earlier in the year, you feel like you've improved a little bit. That's a plus," said Amick.
This time the Panthers were without an injured Dustin Hubler, who scored 22 points in the teams' first meeting.
Derrick Wilfong scored a team-high 14 points for Meadow Heights, and Tyler Welker added 10.
The Rams will play Bell City for the consolation championship Tuesday at 3 p.m. at the Show-Me Center.
"Not many teams are going to come out 3-1, so that's our goal right now," said Amick. "It may not have been when we started the tournament, but everything happens for a reason and you've got to adjust to what happens and make the best of situations."
Advance made things a bit tougher than necessary but was more than happy to escape with a 57-52 win against Leopold in the fifth-place semifinals of the Southeast Missourian Christmas Tournament.
Seventh-seeded Advance will play fifth-seeded Central in today's 4:30 p.m. fifth-place game.
"It was a little disappointing how we closed the game out," said Advance coach Josh Dowdy, who saw Leopold cut a 12-point deficit to four in the late going. "We just couldn't really execute at the end of the game.
"But I'm happy with the win. Leopold is a quality team."
Advance improved to 7-2, while sixth-seeded Leopold fell to 6-2 after the Wildcats entered the tournament undefeated.
"It seems like I'm always saying the same thing," Leopold coach Shawn Kinder said. "We turned the ball over too much and didn't execute on the offensive end.
"But Advance did a great job."
Leopold trailed 31-26 at halftime, but senior Darren VanGennip's 3-pointer with a little more than three minutes left in the third quarter put the Wildcats ahead 37-36.
Advance senior David VanGennip answered 35 seconds later with a two-point basket for a 38-37 Hornets' lead.
That started a 15-2 Advance run that carried into the final period and opened up a 51-39 bulge for the game's biggest advantage.
Leopold closed to 56-52 in the final 35 seconds and missed two layups that would have made things even more interesting.
"We played pretty hard," Advance junior Luke Steil said. "We just have to be a little more in control at the end. We can't get all those jitters."
Steil and senior Jacob Bond each scored 13 points to pace Advance. David VanGennip added 11 points.
Rachel Crader from the SEMO News Service contributed to this report.