“They’re a seasoned club. Every time we tried to make a run they came right back on us. It was a great test for us. And it gave my kids a chance to see what it’s like to play in a state-tournament-like setting. Hopefully, it will help us down the line.” MARQUS MITCHELL, Tara coach
Scotlandville High made history by becoming the first school to win three straight Coca-Cola/East Baton Rouge Parish Tournament boys basketball titles.
Just as impressive was the way the Hornets (18-1) hit on all cylinders in a 70-43 victory over Tara in the title-game played Sunday night at Southern University’s F.G. Clark Activity Center.
“To be honest with you, I’m just trying get these guys to be a solid team and get better every day,” Scotlandville coach Carlos Sample said.
“I know there are a lot of people doubting us after the talent we graduated last year when we won the (Class 5A) state title.
“Who ever thought this was possible? But we set goals and objectives and this is one of them. This tournament is prestigious and it means something. These guys believe in the system and they execute it.”
Jordan Adebutu led the top-seeded Hornets with a game-high 20 points. Point guard Ezekiel Brown, who was voted the tourney MVP, added 17. Garrick Green contributed 15 points and 12 rebounds. Joshua Plain led Tara with 12 points.
Scotlandville jumped out to a 15-9 first-quarter lead and never looked back. It was a role reversal for Tara, which used a fast start on its way to a semifinal win over McKinley Saturday night.
The Trojans (13-5) were hampered by turnovers and had no answer for Scotlandville’s combination of outside shooting led by Adebutu, defense and transition layups.
“We just played a great team tonight,” Tara coach Marqus Mitchell said. “My kids played slow and kind of sluggish. We never could recover. They’re a seasoned club. Every time we tried to make a run they came right back on us.
“It was a great test for us. And it gave my kids a chance to see what it’s like to play in a state-tournament-like setting. Hopefully, it will help us down the line.”
Brown, a part-time starter a year ago, summed up his team’s effort in one word — “defense.”
The Hornets had more than enough firepower too. Scotlandville jumped out to an 11-2 first-quarter led. Tara countered by scoring eight of the next 10 points.
It was the best run the Trojans would make at Scotlandville. A 3-pointer by Adebutu and a basket and a free throw by Brown quickly helped Scotlandville extend its lead to double digits in the second quarter.
Scotlandville led 33-22 at halftime. The Hornets outscored Tara 37-21 in the second half, often forcing turnovers that led to either a transition basket or free throws.
By the end of the third quarter, Scotlandville had extended its lead 19 points. Another 3-pointer by Adebutu sent the Hornets into the final quarter with a 54-35 lead.
It is the fourth EBR title in five years for Scotlandville. McKinley is the other four-time EBR champion. Glen Oaks, with six EBR titles, tops all teams.
Don’t expect the Hornets to treat this EBR victory as a crowning achievement.
“We’ve gotta keep working,” Brown said.
MCKINLEY 41, MADISON PREP 39: A steal by Kyle Woods with three seconds left clinched a come-from-behind win for second-seeded McKinley (13-5) in the third-place game.
The Panthers trailed for the majority of the fourth quarter. Three baskets underneath by Keeyon Smart helped MHS gain control in the final two minutes.
Joseph Delpit finished with 11 points and Marquise Kaigler added 10 for McKinley. Smart added eight points. Brandon Sampson, who scored a game-high 14 points, was the lone double figures scorer for fourth-seeded Madison Prep (10-4).
“Coach (Jeff) Jones (Madison Prep coach) did a good job of switching up defenses on us and we didn’t know what we were going to have,” McKinley coach Marvin Dotson said. “I told my guys to keep their eyes open and take what they give us.”