The Scott County Central Braves made their Class 1 semifinal game on Thursday afternoon look almost as easy as their previous three trips to Columbia as they dispatched the Glasgow Yellowjackets 78-48 at the Hearnes Center.
Scott Central (21-10) will face Drexel, who defeated St. Joseph Christian 61-36, on Saturday at 5 p.m. for a chance to bring home their 16th state championship in school history.
"Each year is a new challenge," Scott County Central head coach Kenyon Wright said. "We may have been up here several times but still, it's one of those things, you've got to be pretty lucky to get up here."
Seniors Dominique Porter and LaMarcus Steward, who are the only two players with experience from Scott Central's previous state championships, led the Braves with a combined 47 points taking on the role of scorers once held the last three years by former Braves superstar Otto Porter.
"These two guys have had some experience with the state championships the last couple years," Wright said. "It's just one of those things where you try to work all year towards a common goal and these guys said about a year ago is that is what they wanted to do is try to come back up here."
Although, to some, this team was supposed to struggle this time around after losing the likes of Porter and replacing a slew of seniors from last year's squad, Scott Central looked like the Braves of old.
"We just take all those doubters and put it in the gym," Dominique Porter said. "We just work harder and harder each day and try to get back up here."
A 14-0 run during the first quarter had the three time defending champs sitting pretty. A layup by Larandis Banks, who finished with 11 points, seven rebounds and six steals, put the Braves ahead 9-7 with 3:37 left in the quarter.
Scott Central never trailed again. The Braves were ahead 20-9 after the first quarter and opened the second with a 15-5 run behind six points from Steward, who scored 11 points in the second quarter.
Scott Central outscored Glasgow 27-16 to go up 47-24 at the half.
"I think we came out with good intensity," Wright said. "That goes a long way whenever your playing in games like this."
Most of their points came from their ability to create turnovers.
"We don't ever see any kind of quickness like that," Glasgow head coach Mick Cropp said. "It's hard to emulate that and get adjusted to it."
The Braves, who outrebounded the Yellowjackets 29-24, swarmed on defense using their famed pressure defense to their full advantage.
"That was our whole mindset, was to just to put the pressure on the guards up top so they couldn't get it to (Reid Littrell) because that was their main scorer," Dominique Porter said.
Glasgow was overwhelmed by Scott Central's speed as they were forced into four 10 second calls and 18 turnovers in the first half. The Braves scored 23 points purely from Glasgow's mistakes in the first two quarters.
"It was tough. Kind of spastic," Glasgow junior Reid Littrell said. "It was faster than anyone we've every played. By far."
Steward, who had a game high 24 points, was the benefactor of Glasgow's turnovers. He scored 16 points on 7 of 11 shooting in the first half. He continued his torrid scoring pace after averaging 23.5 points in his last three games.
"I guess it's just stepping my game up," Steward explained about what's been different for him during his last few games. "Working harder and trying to get to the top."
Steward has been aggressive in getting to the basket and has became deadly with pull-up jumpers from just about anywhere on the court.
"He's been big for us," Wright said about Steward. "Just stepping up as a senior and becoming that guy. These two seniors have got to step together and say we've got to take over the load when it comes to different things and if it happens to be stepping up in scoring it's scoring, if it's rebounding its rebounding, if it's defense it's defense.
"They have to step up and show these younger guys what it takes to do that."
The Braves continued to pour it on in the second half reaching an advantage of as much as 31 points after a jumper by Banks, 60-29.
Scott Central, who shot 52.5 percent from the floor (32 of 61), led 64-35 going into the fourth quarter.
Coasting through the fourth quarter, reaching a 34-point lead at one point, the Braves assured their spot in the title game for the fourth year in a row.
Jaylen Porter added 10 points and four rebounds as Scott Central had four players in double figures.
Saturday will be Scott Central's 18th state title game appearance.
SCOTT CENTRAL (78) -- Larandis Banks 11, Jaylen Porter 10, Antonio Johnson 6, Dominique Porter 23, LaMarcus Steward 24, Kendall Blissett 2, Aaron Smith 2. FG 32 FT 8-9 F 12 (3-pointers: Banks 1, J. Porter 2, D. Porter 2, Steward 1. Fouled out: none.)
GLASGOW (48) -- Blake Hackman 5, Ethan Thompson 6, Austin Stockhorst 8, Dillon Yung 21, Reid Littrell 8. FG 21 FT 2-5 F 12 (3-pointers: Thompson 2, Stockhorst 2. Fouled out: none.)