Put the baseball cleats away, at least for a few more days. Scotland County extended its basketball season on Tuesday night at Clopton, upsetting the #2 seed Canton with some clutch and superb defense in the game’s final minute.
Most basketball fans would agree that Scotland County was not your typical #7 seed. The Class 2 District 6 bracket was extremely balanced, not only with all but one team coming into post season play with winning records, but with all seven of those squads holding a realistic shot at a title.
SCR-I proved that point on Tuesday night, withstanding a big run by Canton early to battle back and take their Tiger counterparts down to the wire where Will Fromm hit a huge three pointer to break a 59-59 tie with less than a minute to play. SCR-I then came up with a huge steal on defense and Elijah Cooley scored on the fast break to seal the 65-59 win.
Canton looked poised to blow the game open early on, using a 9-0 run to pull ahead 13-3.
But Scotland County battled back. Grant Campbell sank two free throws before Elijah Cooley hit a three-pointer. Cooley scored on the fast break before Campbell converted in the paint to trim the Canton lead to 15-12 and force a timeout with 2:44 left in the first period.
Lance Logsdon capped off a big first period with a jumper giving him 10 points and putting Canton on top 22-14.
SCR-I opened the second period strong with a three-pointer by Gage Dodge and a fast break bucket by Cooley to trim the lead to 22-19. But the Tigers misfired on a pair of transition opportunities leading to a Lance Campbell timeout with 5;13 left in the first half.
Cooley sank a three-pointer and then made a key hustle play, saving a ball in bounds that led to a fast break score for Fromm. Pence then came up with a steal on defense and delivered a three-pointer on the other end that gave SCR-I its first lead at 30-28 with 1:50 left in the second period.
SCR-I kept the momentum heading into the locker room. Aaron Buford scored on a drive to the rim before Fromm connected from behind the arc. Cooley capped off a big first half with a fast break bucket to beat the buzzer and give SCR-I the 37-31 lead.
Scotland County kept the pressure on to start the third period. Campbell scored on an offensive rebound and Fromm found the range again from deep to push the lead to 42-33 and force a quick Canton timeout.
After struggling against Coach Campbell’s switch to a zone defense to slow down Logsdon, Canton finally made the necessary adjustments. Coy Smith started finding the holes in the zone, pulling his team to within four points three straight scores.
Pence ended the run with a basket in the paint before Fromm splashed down another three-pointer.
Canton kept the pressure on, pulling within 47-46 with 2:14 left in the third period, taking advantage of SCR-I’s season-long struggles at the free throw line. Smith sank two from the charity stripe to put Canton ahead 49-47 heading into the fourth quarter.
Campbell tied the score with a bucket in the paint, but those were the lone points of the first two plus minutes of the final period. Fromm finally pulled SCR-I ahead with a basket off the dribble with 5:44 left to play.
The two teams traded the lead over the final minutes. A three-point play by Pence put SCR-I ahead 57-55 with 2:11 left to play. Logsdon answered with a three-point play of his own to give Canton the lead back. But Pence continued a strong fourth quarter, scoring a drive to the hoop to retake the lead for SCR-I.
SCR-I missed a pair of free throws that would have extended the lead allowing Smith to tie the score at 59-59 with 54 seconds left to play when he sank one of two free throws.
But Fromm delivered the home run when he sank a three-pointer with just 14 seconds left to play forcing a Canton timeout. The Tigers then came up with a steal on defense but turned the ball over, giving Canton one last chance with just four clicks left on the clock, SCR-I again came up with a steal on defense and Cooley scored on the fast break as time expired on the 64-59 win.
Pence and Fromm each finished with 17 points to lead Scotland County in scoring. Cooley added 15 points as the Tigers improved to 16-7 and advanced to the district semifinals to take on Louisiana.