Scott County Central boys basketball team overwhelms Leopold to reach semis

Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Leopold's Joe Elfrink pushes the ball past Scott County Central's LaMarcus Steward, left, and Dominique Porter, right, during the second quarter Tuesday. (Kristin Eberts)

The Leopold boys basketball team knew it needed to do three things well during its quarterfinal game at the Southeast Missourian Christmas tournament Tuesday night.

It didn't do any of them -- well or otherwise.

The three-time defending tournament and Class 1 state champion Scott County Central Braves have a way of doing that to opponents, even before they step onto the court.

The result for Leopold was a 72-53 loss that looked as if it would be worse as the clock ran for parts of the fourth quarter.

"Walking into the huddle before the game, I could see on their faces we were scared to death," Leopold coach Andy Beck said. "That's the worst thing as a coach because that's not something you can fix. You can't control that.

"That SCC -- those three letters carry big weight around here. We were definitely scared."

Perhaps that was a reminder that needed to be given after Leopold became a popular upset pick.

"Kids hear everything," SCC coach Kenyon Wright said. "With the Internet and cellphones, I'm sure they got 15 text messages that said Leopold's going to beat Scott County Central."

The Braves heard it but didn't spend much time dwelling on it.

"We really didn't want to get all into that," SCC senior Dominique Porter said, acknowledging that this Braves team is a different one than the squads that won all those titles. "We just wanted to go in with a clear head that we have to play hard through this whole game and not worry about if they could beat us or not. We just go out there and play all our minutes hard."

Beck said he told his team three things were important -- controlling the game's tempo, rebounding and patiently running its offense.

"All three of them we didn't do," he said. "We didn't do one of them. Not one thing there we did, and that was our big three things we focused on. I don't know if it was nerves or what, but we didn't do any of them."

The Braves, who never trailed, started the game at a fast pace and cranked up the speed as the game progressed.

"We came across half court and I think we were just scared to death," Beck said. "We were just ready to jack a shot up and get back on defense. That's not what we do. That's not our style of play right now."

SCC closed the first quarter on an 8-1 run, led by 16 points at halftime and more than 30 points multiple times in the fourth quarter.

The Braves routinely beat the much-bigger Wildcats to rebounds.

"We're going to be outsized every night we play no matter who we're playing," Wright said. "We're outsized every night. The kids have just got to understand that it doesn't matter how big you are, rebounding is about heart."

The consensus among Braves was that their performance against Leopold was much improved from the one it gave in an opening-round rout of Woodland.

"They executed," Wright said. "That was my key with them was they executed a game plan. They listened and they paid attention and they done a good job of doing that with the game plan. That was the biggest thing was the way they worked together with the game plan."

Now it's back to being a poplar pick to lose, this time against Notre Dame in the semifinals Thursday night.

"We're the underdogs," Porter said. "Everybody thinks that we're not going to be the best, but we try to go there and try to think that nobody can beat us. That's the way we're going to try to do when we play Notre Dame."


LEOPOLD (53) -- Gregg Davis 4, Kyle Stroder 14, D.J. Keim 7, Joe Elfrink 4, James Jansen 6, Cameron Davis 3, Brandon Jansen 15. FG 19, FT 13-20, F 18. (3-pointers: Stroder 2. Fouled out: none)

SCOTT COUNTY CENTRAL (72) -- Larandis Banks 10, Jaylen Porter 13, Tyler Masters 10, Dominique Porter 27, LaMarcus Steward 10, Kendall Blissett 2. FG 30, FT 11-19, F 19. (3-pointers: Steward 1. Fouled out: none)

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