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Scott County Central boys basketball team outlasts Advance to win Oran Invitational
ORAN, Mo. -- Advance claims it wasn't intimidated entering Friday's Oran Invitational championship game against the three-time defending state champion Scott County Central Braves.
Hornets sophomore Lane Below didn't hesitate when asked at what point he became convinced his team could stick with the Braves.
"Right there at the start," Below said. "I knew it from the very beginning."
But the Braves proved too much and emerged with an 85-64 victory for their fourth consecutive Oran Invite title.
Advance stayed with the Braves in the opening minutes, but SCC sparked one of its patented runs late in the first quarter. It used a 20-4 spurt to grab a commanding 36-18 lead.
But the Hornets dished out some of the Braves' own medicine with an 18-4 run to end the first half and only trail by four entering halftime.
"Cut down turnovers," Advance coach Andrew Halford said. "We had a little spurt where we threw it away four, five times in a row and they got something quick. Then we were like hey, we can move the ball. We can pass the ball without turning it over. When we did that, we put ourselves back in position."
SCC shot 53 percent (8 of 15) in the second quarter, but the Hornets scorched the nets at 75 percent (8 of 12).
"We kind of felt where we needed to come together as a team and just play," SCC senior Dominique Porter said. "Instead of us taking that lead like we was supposed to and just go ahead and put them away, we kind of messed around and let them come back. I think we tried to come together as a team and put in our shots and play defense and keep them from scoring."
SCC never trailed after halftime, but the Braves couldn't gain much separation for much of the second half. The Hornets (2-1) turned over the ball nine times in the third quarter, but the Braves (3-2) committed eight turnovers.
"It seemed like we'd do all right for a little bit then bang, there's five turnovers in a row, stuff like that," Halford said.
The key for the Hornets was avoiding the Braves' breakneck pace. SCC loves to run the floor and pressure teams into trying to keep up. But the Hornets found success when they slowed the pace a little.
"We know they're really fast and they could beat our press, so we were going to just sit back and play our game and not theirs," Below said.
It was easier for the Braves to ratchet up the tempo over the last three years because the 6-foot-8 Otto Porter played in the center of the press defense. Porter, who now plays at Georgetown, made everything more difficult.
But the Braves lack size this year, so they're relying on other methods to quicken the pace.
"Whenever they go out and run the press like they're supposed to and they see each other down the court and look to make those passes down the court, they can force the tempo a little bit," SCC coach Kenyon Wright said. "They just have to push themselves. It comes to being in shape when it comes to that, and my kids run a lot and they'll tell you the same thing."
Advance only trailed 64-57 with 6 minutes, 23 seconds left in the game, but the Braves outscored the Hornets 21-7 from there.
"We ran them and got them tired," said Dominique Porter, who scored a game-high 34 points. "They kind of spread out their defense and it opened shots up for us."
Friday's victory was a change from the Braves' last three Oran Invite titles. They outscored their opponents by an average of 37 points in the three previous title games. The 21-point victory was deceiving because the Braves scored 12 points over the final 1:19 of the game.
"It's pretty tough because we're used to having a big lead," said SCC senior LaMarcus Steward, who finished with 18 points. "But it comes down to the wire. It's a little more fun and tougher."
ADVANCE (64) -- Tyler Middleton 2, Hunter Wilson 6, Lane Below 22, Trey Wallace 10, Jacob Spears 13, Curtis Gilliland 2, Ethan Barr 9. FG 20, FT 21-28, F 21. (3-pointers: Below 1. Fouled out: Wilson, Spears)
SCOTT COUNTY CENTRAL (85) -- Larandis Banks 15, Jaylen Porter 8, Chris Brown 1, Antonio Johnson 3, Dustin Johnson 3, Dominique Porter 34, LaMarcus Steward 18, Tyler Masters 3. FG 32, FT 19-27, F 21. (3-pointers: D. Johnson 1. Fouled out: A. Johnson)