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- Bob Evans restaurant in Cape Girardeau among chain's 21 closings (04/26/16)9
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Scott County Central boys basketball team stiff-arms Oak Ridge in district title game
Scott County Central used its trademark quickness and smothering defense to claim the Class 1 District 2 boys basketball championship again.
The Braves ran out to an early lead and held off a pesky Oak Ridge squad to claim a 68-54 victory.
"That's the name of the game this time of the year," SCC coach Kenyon Wright said. "Kids have to understand that it's four quarters and there's no tomorrow. A team that can play like that and do those things has a chance. And that's all you can ask for out of a team, especially my kids."
Oak Ridge saw the difference between practicing for speed and quickness and playing against it.
The Blue Jays fell behind 15-2 out of the gates.
"We talked about normally it happens where two minutes into the game you're having to call that timeout because it's 9-2 or 9-1, and I don't want to have to call that timeout," Oak Ridge coach Adam Stoneking said. "We wanted to come out with that not happening, but it happened anyway. It's hard because you can't practice that speed."
The Braves forced 11 turnovers in the first quarter and gained a 21-9 advantage after one quarter.
A telling sign of the pace of the game was in shot attempts.
The Braves shot 21 times compared to just 10 attempts by the Blue Jays in the first quarter.
Oak Ridge attempted to claw back in the game in the second quarter.
The Blue Jays cut their deficit to 25-14 on a Lance Rohde free throw, but the Braves rattled off a 9-0 run to extend their lead to 34-14.
"Coach told us as soon as we get the ball, he knows we're a running team, so just take off with it," Braves guard Lemarcus Steward said. "And don't stop until we get to the rim."
The Braves were off and running every time Oak Ridge managed a basket.
"These guys, they got to understand this is the second season," Wright said. "We got to step into it and go. If they want to go, they have to do it the right way. I've been preaching it all year -- to beat teams, we've got to be fast. We have to utilize what we have. We don't have any height, so we have to utilize our quickness."
The quickness caused problems for the Blue Jays and propelled SCC to a 37-18 lead at halftime.
The two teams played evenly for the majority of the second half.
Oak Ridge kept pace with the Braves, and even outscored them 13-9 in the third quarter to make it 46-31 heading into the fourth.
"We switched our press breaker up," Stoneking said. "I thought that really helped us get the ball up the court a lot easier and helped us get into some offense. That's really all it was. Once we got into half court, I thought we were doing OK, but it was just tough getting past the press."
The Blue Jays cut into the lead without much help from their leading scorer, Ryan Below.
Below was held to six points on 2-of-7 shooting from the field and 2 of 4 from the charity stripe.
"He's tough," Wright said about Below. "He's a strong kid. He's athletic. I just thought our guys did a good job of getting a body on him. As long as you get a body on him, that pushed him off of where he wanted to be."
Added Stoneking: "Every time we brought it down, he'd have a guy on him and two guys shadowing. And we knew that. We talked about that. We knew we were going to have to have good ball reversal and find the guys at the high post. And it took us about a half to figure that out. That's the difference between a good team and a great team."
Oak Ridge managed to make a late push thanks to some timely 3-point shooting.
The Blue Jays trailed 48-31 a minute into the fourth quarter, but a 3-pointer by Kelby Brown sparked Oak Ridge.
Brown sandwiched two 3-pointers between an SCC bucket to cut the Braves' lead to 50-37.
Steward quickly silenced the Oak Ridge faithful.
The senior scored 10 of the Braves' next 13 points to put the game out of reach.
"I just attacked the rim," Steward said. "Attack, attack, attack."
Steward finished with a game-high 23 points.
"At times, yes, at times," Wright said about Steward's strong play. "He has brain farts. Being a senior, I look back on it at this moment and I laugh, but in the game I want to grab him by the throat sometimes. But I'm very proud of him. I love him to death. He's worked hard for me ever since I've been at Scott Central. He's done a good job learning from the older guys. ... That's what makes ballplayers -- somebody that wants to listen and pay attention, and I think Lemarcus does a good job of listening and paying attention, and it showed tonight."
Steward received plenty of help from his fellow senior Dominique Porter, who finished with 22 points.
"I'm just trying to show the younger ones that haven't been here an example," Porter said. "Set an example and make them comfortable in their shoes."
Larandis Banks added 18 for the Braves, while Hunter Seyer led Oak Ridge with 10 points.
OAK RIDGE (54) -- Ryan Below 6, Kelby Brown 9, Jacob LeGrand 9, Kyle Rohde 7, Lance Rohde 7, Ethan Seyer 2, Hunter Seyer 10, Dakota Zoellner 4. FG 18. FT 11-17. F 22. (3-pointers: Brown 3, Seyer 2, LeGrand, K. Rohde. Fouled out: Zoellner.)
SCOTT COUNTY CENTRAL (68) -- Larandis Banks 18, Antonio Johnson 1, Dominique Porter 22, Jaylen Porter 4, Lamarcus Steward 23. FG 24. FT 18-28. F 14. (3-pointers: Banks, Porter. Fouled out: Johnson.)