Scotlandville’s Brown delivers at end for win

LAKE CHARLES — Scotlandville High guard Ezekiel Brown has had better nights. The Hornets floor general was just 3-for-13 from the field.

But Brown delivered just what his team needed, making two free throws with 9 seconds left, lifting Scotlandville to a 47-46 victory over St. Augustine in a Class 5A semifinal that helped highlight the first day of the Louisiana High School Athletic Association-State-Farm Boys Top 28 tournament.

“I don’t know why (the Purple Knights) fouled, but I’m glad they fouled him,” Scotlandville coach Carlos Sample said of Brown. “His shots barely touched the rim. He’s the bus driver. He’s done things like that all year.”

St. Aug had one more possession, but never got a shot off. Scotlandville’s defensive pressure forced a turnover just before the clock expired, triggering a massive on-the-court celebration on Tuesday night at Burton Coliseum.

It is the fifth straight title-game appearance for top-seeded Scotlandville (36-1), which has won the past two 5A titles. The victory also avenged Scotlandville’s lone loss of the season, a one-point loss on Dec. 21. The Hornets face second-seeded Natchitoches Central (30-4), a 67-50 winner over Thibodaux in the other 5A semifinal, at 8 p.m. Friday in the title game.

Ever the soft-spoken leader, Brown spoke of needing to make the shots for his team during postgame interviews. He finished with 10 points and four assists, making five of six free throws.

Jordan Adebutu scored game-high 14, including nine in the third quarter when Scotlandville forged a seven-point lead. The sophomore made 6-of-10 from the field.

Marcel Daniels led St. Augustine (27-9) with 12 points, making 4-for-5 from the field. Charles Brown added 10 for the Purple Knights.

Daniels’ 3-pointer with 2:01 remaining got St. Aug back within one at 45-44, setting the stage for an improbable finish.

A steal and dunk by Marlon Watts with 58 seconds to go gave St. Augustine its first lead since early in the third quarter. The Purple Knights had just four team fouls at the time.

On Scotlandville’s ensuing possession, St. Aug committed three fouls, the last of which put Ezekiel Brown at the line.

St. Aug coach Mitchell Johnson said it the final foul was not intentional, noting that his players got caught up in the moment and bumped Brown.

“We missed like four or five layups, we missed three or four putbacks,” Johnson said. “Those small things are the most important things to me. We had our chances to win this game.

“I’ve got to give those guys at Scotlandville a lot of credit.”

Scotlandville’s Brown was not the only star player who endured some struggles. The Purple Knights’ 6-foot-6 post player Bryce Washington, a University of Louisiana at Lafayette signee, missed all five of his shots from the field. He made all four of his free throws and contributed a game-high nine rebounds for St. Aug.

Scotlandville started the game fast, racing out to a 12-4 lead in the first quarter after two free throws by Ezekiel Brown. St, Aug closed the quarter on a 6-4 run and cut it to 16-10.

Daniels sank a couple of long jumpers that gave the Purple Knights a jump start in the second quarter. St. Aug led 24-22 at halftime.

Enter Adebutu, who started the third quarter like a one-man wrecking crew for Scotlandville.

First, he scored on two jumpers from close range. The sophomore added two more buckets, one of which was a 3-pointer.

The only thing that slowed Adebutu down was foul trouble. Before he left, his 3-pointer ignited a 7-0 Scotlandville run. Garrick Green scored underneath to make it 37-30 with 2:40 left.

It was one of many instances in which Scotlandville chose to attack or dish off underneath against a taller St. Aug team.

“We just got more aggressive and started attacking,” Scotlandville’s Sample said.

“I think that made them a little uneasy. That’s what we do.”

Though Ezekiel Brown missed a layup in the final seconds of the third quarter, the Hornets took a 39-32 edge into the final quarter.

A 3-pointer by Erin Bringier got St. Aug within two at 39-37 with 5:54 remaining. Green, Scotlandville’s 6-3 post player, answered with a 3-pointer that provided a little breathing room prior to the final sequence.

“They’ve got the heart of champion,,” Sample noted. “I couldn’t be more proud of a group of kids.”