SCOTT CITY -- Free throws don't win every game, but they win the close ones. The Scott City Rams showed how true this saying is on Tuesday night, picking up a 73-63 home win over the Portageville Bulldogs.
The Rams started the fourth quarter with a slim four-point lead, however, they were able to use an 11-of-14 performance from the free throw line over the final eight minutes to prevent the Bulldogs from coming any closer.
"Free throw shooting was the difference in the game," said Scott City head coach Travis Schiwitz. "We shot very well in the fourth quarter."
Scott City was able to jump out to a lead early on, primarily because of the play of Landon Robert and Skylar Cobb. Robert and Cobb combined for 28 of their team's 36 points in the first half, including four 3-pointers.
The Rams outscored the Bulldogs in both of the first two quarters, and held a 36-25 lead at halftime.
Portageville wasn't ready to go away just yet, however. Fueled by a strong defensive effort, the Bulldogs opened the third quarter with a 12-2 run, pulling within one point with 4:56 left in the quarter.
A big factor in the Bulldogs' strong third quarter was their ability to limit Robert and Cobb offensively. The pair was held scoreless for the entire period, but a strong quarter by Scott City's Zach Cotner helped the Rams maintain their lead, 47-43.
"We focused on them more defensively. We tried to adjust and do some things differently," said Portageville assistant coach Jason Irby. "Our kids responded well to that, but then we started giving up some points to other players."
In the final period, the Rams were able to get back to what carried them in the first half. The reemergence of Robert and Cobb allowed Scott City to post their highest quarter point total in the game. The two combined for 16 fourth-quarter points, including going 7-8 from the free throw line, as the Rams put up 26 points.
Portageville's Isaac Ray did all he could to keep the Bulldogs within striking distance in the fourth quarter. Ray had nine points in the first four minutes of the quarter before fouling out at the 3:44 mark.
With Ray on the bench, the Rams were able to extend their lead to 10 points with only 3:18 left in the game, however the Bulldogs had one more comeback attempt in them.
With 1:35 left in the contest, Blake Posey hit 1-of-2 free throws for Portageville, which pulled them within 5, but the next two possessions ended any hope of a comeback.
On the ensuing Scott City possession, Portageville fouled Robert, who went to the line for two shots. After knocking down the first free throw, Robert missed the second, but the Rams were able to come up with an offensive rebound and find Cobb for an easy basket.
The Rams then came up with a steal at mid court and found Cobb wide open to put Scott City up 73-63 and put the game well out of reach. Portageville failed to score on their next possession, and Scott City held the ball to let time expire.
"Skylar, he's been there for us all year, he's our leader out there," said Schiwitz. "He does so many good things. Landon Robert can be a bit streaky at times, but when he's on, he's dangerous."
Despite putting up 20 points of their own in the fourth quarter, Portageville's struggles from the free throw line were enough to prevent a late comeback. The Bulldogs were only 3-of-8 from the line in the fourth.
"We work on free throws a lot, we just didn't knock them down tonight," Irby said. "We had some of our better shooters at the line, they just didn't drop for us."
Schiwitz was thrilled with his teams performance. "That's probably the best we've played all year," Schiwitz said.
The Rams were led by Cobb, who had a game-high 24 points, and Robert, who finished with 20. Zach Cotner also added 12 points and 8 rebounds. Tevin Walker led Portageville with 20 points, followed by Dominique Walker with 16.
Scott City will play Thursday at Caruthersville, while Portageville will be idle until next week's Class 2 District 1 tournament.
PORTAGEVILLE (63) -- Tevin Walker 20, Isaac Ray 10, Jansen Darst 3, Denzell Simmons 1, Dominique Walker 16, Blake Posey 1, Jake Young 12. FG 26 FT 8-19 F 19. (3-pointers: Darst 1, D. Walker 2. Fouled out: Ray.)
SCOTT CITY (73) -- Landon Robert 20, Skylar Cobb 24, Alex Eichorn 2, Hunter Cox 6, Justin Modglin 7, Zach Cotner 12, Corey Rogers 2. FG 28 FT 13-19 F 13. (3-pointers: Robert 3, Cobb 2, Modglin 1. Fouled out: none.)