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Scott County Central books another final four
POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. -- Scott County Central asserted its dominance early and often Saturday.
The Braves scored the first 10 points of the game and Risco never stood a chance in their Class 1 boys basketball state quarterfinal at Three Rivers Community College.
"You got to come out with a lot of energy," Braves senior Bobby Hatchett said. "It helps the team, helps the crowd. You have to keep the momentum going. That's the key."
SCC cruised into its third consecutive final four with its 100-53 victory.
"It's exciting," Hatchett said. "It's fun. We put in a lot of work over the summer, but it paid off though. We all knew that. Hey, we're back again."
The Braves (27-2) will face Dadeville (29-1) at 6:40 p.m. Thursday at the Hearnes Center in Columbia, Mo.
Hatchett played a pivotal role in helping the Braves earn a return trip to Columbia. He barely missed from the field, going 11 of 13 (85 percent) from the field. He scored a game-high 27 points while adding six steals and three assists.
"With Bobby, we was wanting to make him shoot from the outside because we figured that was better than pressuring him and let him go to the hole," Risco coach Brandon Blankenship said.
The Braves used their superior quickness and harassing press to force numerous turnovers in the opening eight minutes.
"We talked about jumping on them as quick as we could because I know they can shoot the ball real well," SCC coach Kenyon Wright said. "They can really shoot the thing. I figured they'd try to control the tempo a little bit, and I thought if we jumped on them, maybe they couldn't do it as much as they wanted to. The kids done a good job of doing that."
Blankenship said he tried a bunch of gimmicks in practice to prepare his team for the Braves' pressure defense.
"It's so hard to prepare for that," Blankenship said. "You can't really simulate their quickness, how big they are. We tried to put six or seven guys on the floor on defense, just do some things like that. We even tried to do a scrimmage where our guys weren't allowed to dribble."
It took the Braves less than four minutes to score 15 points and they pushed their lead to 31-5 after the first quarter.
"We just wanted to speed up their pace," Braves junior Otto Porter said. "We didn't want them to hold the ball so we just tried to pick up the defense so they couldn't move the ball real well."
Risco played fairly even with SCC in the second quarter as the Braves only outscored the Tigers 29-21. But the Tigers still trailed 60-26 at the intermission.
"We just talked about not quitting," Blankenship said. "You know they're capable of going on those runs like that and jumping a six- or eight-point lead to a 25-point lead."
The Braves continued to pour it on in the third quarter. Hatchett scored seven points in a 1 minute, 14 second span, capped by a traditional three-point play with 4:51 left in the third. That was the last time he and Porter saw the court.
"It was good that we didn't play that much because they're the ones who help to get us prepared," Hatchett said of his team's bench players. "They deserve to play too. Hey, you take us out, we'll clap for them."
The Braves played even with the Tigers the rest of the way despite SCC's top two players on the bench.
"I'd rather them play the whole game so that way they're used to playing a full game," Wright said of Porter and Hatchett. "It's just tough to do some times."
The Braves will try to defend their state championship and win the school's 14th state crown in boys basketball this weekend. Blankenship said he thinks there's little question what will happen in Columbia.
"They're No. 1 in the state for a reason," he said. "They're going to repeat."
RISCO (53) -- Gregory Bixler 14, Christopher Pavy 5, Josh Long 5, David Carter 4, Brandon Bennett 14, Jeremy Fowler 3, Zachary Williams 8. FG 20, FT 7-11, F 19. (3-pointers: Bixler 2, Pavy 1, Long 1, Bennett 2. Fouled out: Williams)
SCOTT COUNTY CENTRAL (100) -- Bobby Hatchett 27, Trey Johnson 9, Lawrence Woodson 9, LaMarcus Steward 5, Otto Porter 19, Dominique Porter 12, Bryan Freed 8, Calvin Porter 8, John Rhoden 3. FG 40, FT 18-22, F 14. (3-pointers: Johnson 1, D. Porter 1. Fouled out: none)