While neither team could find an edge in the first half, blistering 3-point shooting in the third quarter lifted Smith-Cotton beyond the reach of Lebanon Friday en route to a 52-38 victory at Smith-Cotton Junior High.
With under two minutes to play in the first, Keoni Hale put back a Smith-Cotton miss to put the Tigers up by one. Zion Buckner drew a late foul to earn two more free throws. Lebanon’s Harrison Carr made the score 21-20 less than 10 seconds before half, but Smith-Cotton would never trail again.
It began to rain threes in the second half.
Scroggins, Buckner, Hale and Gavin Jones combined for 7 treys in the third quarter. Smith-Cotton (10-4) outscored Lebanon 27-9 during that time.
Scroggins, who finished with a game-high 16 points and 17 rebounds, hit three consecutives shots from beyond the arc. After the third make, an S-C student in the junior high gym — one smaller and cozier than the high school’s — echoed what everyone else was thinking:
“He’s on fire!”
Smith-Cotton’s 6-foot-7 senior guard said he tries not to get a “big head” about a hot streak.
“Once I make one, I try to make another,” Scroggins said.
After a flurry of makes and a string of five scoreless Lebanon possessions, Smith-Cotton led 44-25 with less than two minutes left in the third.
Hale finished with 13 points and 9 rebounds, while Buckner had 16 points and 6 rebounds.
Head coach Brennan Scanlon said Smith-Cotton’s defensive adjustments were the difference for the Tigers.
“We’re going to win games with defense,” Scanlon said. “In our four losses, the defense wasn’t there.
“I think our guys are starting to trust in winning games with defense.”
Trent Millsap, Jack Ehrhardt and Connor Hicks each scored 10 for Lebanon.
The Yellowjackets built a 7-6 lead in a first quarter that included a two-minute scoreless stretch.
Scroggins tied the game at 7 with a free throw, and put the Tigers ahead completing a 3-point play with a turnaround jumper. Anthony Taylor tied it at 14 with a 3-pointer.
Alex Agueros can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @abagueros2