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Braves win their final game in historic gym
MORLEY, Mo. -- In the Scott County Central boys' final basketball game at its gym that housed 12 boys state champions, the Braves rekindled some of their past magic.
Before a packed house, Scott County ran past defending Class 1 state champion Bell City 92-81.
While former Brave greats Otto Porter and Marcus Timmons were honored during pregame festivities, along with legendary coach Ronnie Cookson, it was senior guard Avis White that stole the show. White, who was questionable for the game due to knee injuries, scored 30 points and dominated the second and third quarters for the Braves (15-8).
"He's a good shooter and a good player," Bell City coach David Heeb said. "They didn't do anything that surprised us tonight, but the things they are good at they did well, and there was nothing we could do to stop them.
"They really shot the ball well, and when they shoot it that good, they are probably as good of a team as there is in the state in 1A."
Added Braves coach Melvin Porter: "Avis was a question mark tonight because his knees have really been tearing him up. So I was tickled to death to see him come out and play with the energy he did tonight."
Porter is in his third week back on the bench after missing more than a month while serving a suspension during an investigation by Scott County Law Enforcement and the Missouri Division of Social Services. Porter was suspended Dec. 9 and returned Jan. 26.
After Scott County sprinted to a 17-5 lead in the first five minutes, Bell City (15-8) began to slowly chip away.
With Scott County clinging to a 35-29 lead with less than two minutes remaining in the first half, White took over, draining two 3-pointers and hitting two free throws to push the Braves to a 43-32 lead at the half.
White continued his clutch play after halftime, scoring 12 points in the third, including two 3-pointers that gave Scott County a 73-53 lead.
Despite the comfortable lead, Scott County's poor free-throw shooting ensured a tight finish. The Braves missed 11 of 18 free throws in the quarter, including their first six. The inaccuracy allowed Bell City to climb within 83-73 when Phillip Gross hit a 3-pointer with 1:58 remaining.
"That's been kind of our story, is consistently shooting free throws," Porter said. "I think that's the biggest weakness in our game right now. We shoot plenty of free throws. I don't know what it is -- I don't know if it's the temperature in here, but we just struggle."
Josh Boley and Jeremy Johnson each added 11 points for Scott County, while Josh Porter added 10.
Blaine Stewart paced Bell City with 18 points, while D.D. Gillespie had 15 points and Jeff Liggins 12.
SCOTT COUNTY 92, BELL CITY 81
BELL CITY (81) -- Nick Niemczyk 7, D.D. Gillespie 15, Austin Segers 9, Kerry Lasters 9, Blaine Stewart 18, Jeff Liggins 12, Garrett McIntyre 6, Jon Goodman 2, Phillip Gross 3. FG 33, FT 4-8, F 23 (3-pointers: Stewart 4, Liggins 2, Niemczyk 1, Gillespie 1, Segers 1, Lasters 1, Gross 1. Fouled out: Stewart)
SCOTT COUNTY (92) -- Andrew Pullen 6, Avis White 30, Josh Boley 11, Isaac Porter 9, Ray Rogers 7, Josh Porter 10, Pershard Owens 2, Jeremy Johnson 11, Chris Monroe 6. FG 32, FT 17-32, F 18 (3-pointers: White 6, I. Porter 2, J. Porter 2, Boley 1. Fouled out: none)
JV: Scott County 64, Bell City 51