(Photo by Chris Pobst, Staff)
SCOTT CITY -- As determined as he usually is, Zach Cotner took his intent to another level on Tuesday night.
The senior walked off his home court for the last time scoring 33 points against Portageville as Cotner and the Scott City Rams won their final regular season game 60-56.
"He was on a mission and you could tell right from the get-go," Scott City head coach Mark Dannenmueller said. "He just had an aggressiveness that I've never seen. That's saying a lot because he's one of the most aggressive players I've ever seen.
"He was so determined and focused. What a way to go out in his last home game."
Cotner kept the Rams afloat when they were down, pushed them ahead when it was close and helped seal it in the end.
"I always try to shoot around the basket and my teammates gave me great passes and handled the ball really well," Cotner said. "I just wanted to do as much as I could to help them out."
With 51 seconds left in the third quarter, Cotner stole the ball and went the distance to put the Rams up 43-42. He worked for an offensive stick back during Scott City's next possession to push their lead up to three and the Rams never trailed again.
Cotner opened the fourth quarter with a basket and two free throws giving the Rams a 49-44 advantage.
Portageville, however, would not go away as they climbed to within one point twice during the last minute and a half.
Robert Anderson hit two free throws and received an assist from Dion Foster to slice Scott City's lead to 55-54 and 57-56.
Scott City's Jesse Sanders answered Anderson with 4 of 5 free throws during the last minute while Portageville scrambled to find ways to either tie or steal the game away.
After Sanders, who added 12 points, made it 59-56 with 16 seconds remaining, Portageville's Dominique Walker, who finished with a team high 20 points, pulled up for a 3-pointer to knot the game at 59 but was off the mark.
Scott City's Ryan Brock came down with the rebound, was fouled and sank 1 of 2 from the free throw line to seal it.
Portageville committed eight turnovers in the fourth quarter and shot 3 of 9 from the field while missing four 3-point attempts.
Scott City was 8 of 10 from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter. Portageville was 5 of 14 for the game.
"We had way too many turnovers and the free throw line killed us," Portageville head coach Jason Irby said. "If we shoot 60 percent from the line, we win the game. We just didn't do a very good job of executing at times which caused some of those turnovers."
When the Bulldogs had success on offense, they were creating turnovers on defense. During the first quarter alone, Portageville caused six Rams turnovers and scored 10 points from them.
After a 3-pointer from Jansen Darst at the buzzer, Portageville led 21-11 heading into the second quarter.
"It's so hard to simulate their pressure," Dannenmueller said. "Once you get out on the court, it seems like there's eight or nine guys on defense because they're everywhere."
Once they began to figure out Portageville's defense, Scott City began to take off. The Rams rattled off a 16-5 run in the first four and a half minutes to obtain their first lead since the opening minutes of the first quarter.
"Once we started to calm down and figured out we could beat that, we were fine," Dannenmueller said. "When we're settled down and calm, we're a very good team. Especially offensively."
Cotner, who scored 19 points in the first two quarters, converted on a conventional 3-point play, sank two free throws and scored another basket to give the Rams a 32-26 lead late in the first half.
Scott City held a 33-28 advantage at halftime.
"We tried playing both zone and man, I just don't think we did a good job in our man of denying the ball to (Cotner)," said Irby. "He was able to get the ball wherever he wanted. He was able to backdoor us and get layups."
Behind 11 third quarter points from Walker, Portageville managed to obtain a lead again.
Walker picked off a pass and laid it in making it 39-37 with 3:43 left. The Bulldogs held on to their advantage until Scott City finished the quarter on a 6-2 run.
"Two weeks ago, it seemed like we couldn't win a close game," Dannenmueller said. "Last week we pulled out that win against Scott Central and we held on. We held on again here."
Anderson scored 12 points for the Bulldogs while Foster added another 16.
Portageville ends the regular season with an 18-5 record and will begin Class 2, District 1 play as the No. 1 seed on Monday against Campbell at 4 p.m. at Hayti.
Scott City, who end the regular season at 17-8, are the top seed in the Class 3, District 3 tournament and will take on Jefferson (Festus) on Saturday at noon at West County High School in Park Hills.
PORTAGEVILLE (56) -- Jansen Darst 5, Robert Anderson 12, Dion Foster 16, Dominique Walker 20, Eric Simmons 1, Daniel Allen 2. FG 22 FT 5-14 F 23 (3-pointers: Foster 2, Walker 2. Fouled out: none.)
SCOTT CITY (60) -- Landon Robert 4, Jesse Sanders 12, Jonathon McFall 4, Zach Cotner 33, Ryan Fortner 6, Ryan Brock 1. FG 22 FT 16-23 F 18 (3-pointers: none. Fouled out: none.)