Scotlandville defense sets tone in win

Scotlandville High struggled to find an offensive rhythm in the first half of its boys basketball game against McKinley Friday night, so the Hornets turned up the defensive pressure.

The result was a standout performance by the front line of Damien Jones, Brian Bridgewater and Jared Sam as Scotlandville posted a 68-37 win over the visiting Panthers.

In the first half, Scotlandville (13-2) shot 44 percent from the field, but forced 13 turnovers. The Hornets also blocked six shots, including four by Jones, who finished with six.

By halftime, Scotlandville had built a 30-13 lead, and it was done mostly on defense.

“I don’t think we had a good flow offensively, but the defense picked it up,” Scotlandville coach Carlos Sample said. “It allowed us to get a few easy baskets, and at the same time get the offense going.”

The Scotlandville offense got a boost from Vincent Sanders off the bench and settled down in the second half. Sanders made three second-half 3-pointers as the Hornets finished the game 24 of 48 from the field.

Bridgewater led Scotlandville’s offense with 16 points. Jones and Sam added 12 apiece, and Trelun Banks chipped in 10.

Leonard Daniels topped McKinley with 11 points while Delwin Rodney had nine for the Panthers.

McKinley also picked up its second-half shooting and cut down on its turnovers. Still, the Panthers only got as close as 15 points in the second half.

Bridgewater hit two free throws to open the game. Daniels tied it with a jumper, but Scotlandville scored the next nine points. Bridgewater had a pair of baskets, and Jones had a dunk to highlight the run. A late Bridgewater steal led to Ezekiel Brown’s 3-pointer, giving Scotlandville a 15-6 after one quarter.

In the second quarter, Brown’s steal and layup put the Hornets up 19-7 before McKinley’s Daniels hit a jumper and then scored on a drive. Scotlandville responded with an 11-2 run to close the first half.

Jones keyed the run with two blocked shots and a putback dunk of Sam’s missed shot. Bridgewater and Sam had four points each in the spurt.

Scotlandville made just 1 of 5 shots to open the third quarter, and McKinley got within 32-17 on Daniels’ jumper. Bridgewater hit three free throws pushing the lead to 35-18 midway through before the Hornets finally hit an offensive stride.

Scotlandville finished strong, connecting on 10 of its last 15 field goal attempts.

“We didn’t have a good flow offensively, but we did some other things to offset that,” Sample said. “We did a good job defensively, and we hustled some balls down, but we’re still a work in progress.”