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Scott County Central cruises to Oran title
ORAN -- Playing the Scott County Central boys basketball team brings a lot of challenges.
Defend all-stater Drew Thomas. Keep Otto Porter off the boards. Don't turn the ball over against the press. Keep the Braves from scoring easy baskets in transition.
And after all that, put the ball in the basket.
Advance did a lot of that in the early going in Friday's championship game of the 53rd Oran Invitational. But then the roof fell in, as Scott County Central pulled away for a 68-34 victory for the school's 16th title at the event.
The Braves ended up pulling away in the second half, as the many challenges took their toll on Advance, which suffered a scoring drought of more than seven minutes from late in the second quarter until well into the third.
"I think we were a little too tentative in the second half," Advance first-year coach Josh Dowdy said, "but I think that was due to our legs not being there. I knew our legs were gone there at the end of the second quarter when they made a little five-, six-point run on us."
The Braves (4-1) actually closed the first half on a 10-point run, keeping Advance scoreless for the final 2 1/2 minutes, to claim a 25-14 halftime lead. And then they scored the first 14 points of the third period to stretch the lead to 39-14 before Jacob Bond hit a 3-pointer more than 4 1/2 minutes into the quarter.
From there, it was an exhibition. The highlight of that stretch was a series in which Porter blocked a shot to key a fast break that closed with Thomas slamming home a dunk.
The Braves, who scored 43 points in the second half, were back in form.
"I thought that was the key: If we could make them play a half-court offense for 90 percent of their possessions, we would be all right," Dowdy said. "But when they start leaking and going long, you see what their athleticism is about."
The Hornets (2-1) kept Scott County Central from running them out of the gym in the early going, while the Braves' shooting also was cold.
"We weren't shooting good at all," Braves coach Ronnie Cookson said. "We just couldn't hit."
In fact, Scott County Central's best weapon in the first half was Porter's work on the boards. The 6-foot-6 sophomore, who has grown noticeably taller from last season's breakthrough campaign, finished the first half with 14 rebounds, eight on the offensive end, while putting up 14 points. He finished the game with 16 points and 19 rebounds.
"He's tremendous on the boards," Cookson said. "He works hard at it."
"We just couldn't keep them off the boards," Dowdy said. "We talked about pushing them back in our walk-through today, and we didn't get that accomplished. But 6-7, 6-4 and their physicality had something to do with that."
Porter also had five blocked shots and was a presence inside as Advance shot just 14 of 40 from the field.
"When he blocks you a couple times, you think twice about taking that layup," said Advance's David VanGennip, who finished with eight points.
"I thought the kids really hustled and worked hard," Cookson said of the defensive effort. "That was the difference in the ballgame. You have to hustle because they have too many good shooters. We had to be all over them."
Thomas, who finished with a team-high 24 points after scoring 17 in the second half, said the Braves worked on making Advance's ball handlers go to their opposite hands.
"After halftime, we really made them do it, and I think that pushed them over the edge," Thomas said.
The Braves also inserted senior point guard Bobby Hatchett into the lineup for the third quarter. Cookson limited him to no more than two quarters due to medical reasons. Hatchett added a spark in the second half, scoring eight points, and helped out on both ends of the floor.
"That made a big difference," Porter said. "He brings a lot of energy to the floor."
Hatchett, Porter and Thomas made the all-tournament first team with VanGennip and Bond, who led Advance with 13 points.
Scott County Central had lost the last two tournament finals, including a heartbreaker last year to Class 1 rival Bell City. But the Braves beat the Cubs en route to the state tournament, where they suffered a heartbreaking loss to Jefferson and settled for third place.
This was the Braves' first tournament title since 1992, which ended a streak of 11 straight. That also was the season of the last of the school's 12th boys state championships, all won under Cookson. The Braves never have won state without first winning at Oran.
"I told the boys that in there a while ago: 'Now the pressure is on you,'" Cookson said. "'We're going to have to get in better shape because we're not as deep as some of our competitors are."
@z_agate_no tab_no indnt_bld ld:Advance (34) -- Brad Steil 1, Luke Steil 7, David VanGennip 8, Blake Seabaugh 5, Jacob Bond 13. FG 14, FT 3-5, F 15 (3-pointers: Bond 2, Seabaugh 1. Fouled out: none)
Scott County Central (68) -- Stewart Johnson 4, Bobby Hatchett 8, Dezmin Williams 10, Drew Thomas 24, Randy Timmons 6, Otto Porter 16. FG 29, FT 10-13, F 8 (3-pointers: none. Fouled out: none)
Bell City 68, Oran 46
Jeff Long tossed in 18 points and Melvin Johnson added 14 as the Cubs rolled in the fifth-place game.
Nathan Michelsen and Preston Scherer both scored 12 for the Eagles.
@z_agate_no tab_no indnt_bld ld:Oran (46) -- Kurt Rendleman 7, Preston Scherer 12, Mac McConnell 4, Nathan Michelsen 12, Jon Morrow 11. FG 20, FT 5-9, F 14 (3-pointers: Rendleman 1. Fouled out: None)
Bell City (68) -- Melvin Johnson 14, Jeff Long 18, Allan Long 1, Ronnie Gross 9, Skylor Blackler 11, Leonard Schaefer 6, Brandon Bell 6, John Paul Arnold 3. FG 28, FT 7-15, F14 (3-pointers: Johnson 2, J. Long 1, Gross 1, Schaefer 1. Fouled out: None)
Kelly 54, Twin Rivers 47
Josh DeBrock took care of business, scoring 21 points to lead the Hawks to victory.
Brett Harper chipped in 12 points for the victors in the third-place game.
@z_agate_no tab_no indnt_bld ld:Kelly (54) -- Ryan Essner 3, Josh DeBrock 21, Brett Harper 12, Mark Burger 3, Levi Felter 5, Ryan Rolwing 4, Zach Essner 6. FG 17, FT 14-30, F 16 (3-pointers: R. Essner 1, DeBrock 3, Harper 1, Burger 1. Fouled out: None)
Twin Rivers (47) -- Randy Moore 2, Alan Michael Scheaver 4, Matt Boyles 4, Garrett Stockton 3, Kyle Oberkramer 9, Mason Oberkramer 5, Ryan Miller 3, Zach Payne 17. FG 19, FT 6-16, F 25 (3-pointers: Scheaver 1, Stockton 1, M. Oberkramer 1. Fouled out: Moore)