(Photo by Brent Shipman, Staff)
ORAN -- In what has become an annual occurrence, the Scott Central Braves will once again play for the Oran Invitational championship tonight after a 91-67 win over Malden on Thursday in the tournament semifinals.
"We knew Malden was extremely athletic," Scott Central head coach Frank Staple said. "They have some really good players and they're well coached.
"The things we needed to get better at tonight was executing our half court set and just staying the course and weathering the storm. I thought we did a job of both."
This marks the seventh-straight trip to the title game for the Braves, who have won the tournament four years running. To get there, Scott Central was forced to weather a third quarter push by the Green Wave, who faced a 39-28 deficit coming out of the half.
After extending their lead to 43-30 midway through the third quarter, the Braves saw a brief two minute run by Malden turn it into a five point game at 49-44 with 1:53 left in the third.
Three-straight buckets by Jaylen Porter followed soon after, however, to help Scott Central push ahead 59-46 entering the final frame.
The Braves were able to keep Malden at bay following a 15-point effort from Larandis Banks in the final quarter.
Scott Central (2-2) went on to take a 20-point advantage with 1:58 to play.
"We really did a good job defensively (during our run in the third)," Yevgeny Sokolov said. "We were actually able to stop the high post, but in the fourth our guys slacked again and the high post started getting the ball. They started slashing inside a little more. That was the end of the game basically."
Leading the Braves' effort was Porter with a game-high 27 points. He scored all but six of those points in the second and third quarters combined.
Close behind was Banks, who made up for a slow three quarters with a brilliant fourth to finish with 24 points. He had the team's only 3-pointer and went 5 for 5 at the free throw line in the fourth.
Tyler Masters and Kendall Blissett added 17 and 11 points each.
"As the season goes along we're just trying to work out the kinks and everybody if learning their roles," Staple said. "I think Porter, Masters, Banks and Chris Brown all stepped up tonight and gave us the leadership that we needed.
"I think they kind of learned a lesson -- if things get tough, keep going."
After a 41-point outburst in the quarterfinals, Green Wave sophomore Cortez Dobbins slowed down a bit, but still led his team with 24 points, including a pair of 3-pointers. Romello McCoy scored 15 points while Malik Perkins contributed 12.
The Braves set up a rematch of last year's title game against the Advance Hornets, which Scott Central won 85-64. They'll meet tonight at 8 p.m. at Oran High School.
Malden will play Oran in the third-place game at 6:30 p.m.
MALDEN (67) -- Malik Perkins 12, Dajuan Criglar 6, Gunner Jones 2, Edwin Hale 8, Cortez Dobbins 24, Romello McCoy 15. FG 25, FT 15-26, F 18. (3-pointers: Dobbins 2. Fouled out: Hale.)
SCOTT CENTRAL (91) -- Chris Brown 2, Larandis Banks 24, Tyler Masters 17, Antwoine Johnson 2, Blain Johnson 2, Jaylen Porter 27, Kendall Blissett 11, Cameron Blissett 2, Tyreek Williams 4. FG 40, FT 10-19, F 21. (3-pointers: Banks 1. Fouled out: Kendall Blissett.)