WEST MADISON — The Skyhawks could do little wrong on Friday night.
The Scott High boys basketball team used a ferocious ball-pressuring defense to smother Lincoln County into uncharacteristic turnovers and the Skyhawks shot lights out on the other end of the floor to cruise to a 69-39 win in the Hawk’s Nest.
“We hit some shots tonight,” said Scott coach Shawn Ballard. “It really was the defensive intensity and they struggled to get good looks in the half-court.”
Lincoln County looked to deny the ball to Cavin White and Reece Carden — the latter of the duo hit a buzzer-beating game-winner earlier in the week.
Lincoln County fell out of the (top 10) Class AAA rankings in the March 29 AP Poll after dropping four of five games in late March.
The move propelled Skyhawk teammate Jaren Gaiter to drain a trio of 3-point buckets in the opening frame. Landon Stone, Braxton Dolin and Jay Sharps all hit downtown bombs in the same quarter pushing Scott to a 24-11 advantage that the Panthers could not recover from.
Jackson Sanders — who has been a consistent 3-point threat for the Panthers responded with a trey for Lincoln County.
Coach Rodney Plumley’s Panthers (7-5) were playing without standout guard Jayse Tully — who is healing a broken nose. They did see the return of John Blankenship who made his presence known in the paint, the baseline and from 12-feet out and finished with a team-high 16 points.
“He is a really nice player and I was not surprised to see him play well,” said Ballard.
Lincoln County played their best defense in the second quarter as they held Scott to nine points and slightly closing the gap, trailing 33-20 at intermission.
“They’ve got a lot of guys who can hit shots and they are well-coached and we knew who they were and what they do to try to get them shots and we just wanted to pressure the ball and get them out of the rhythm of running their stuff. It wasn’t full-court pressure but it was really good ball pressure in the half-court and we forced them to go one-on-one against our pressure instead of sitting back and letting them run their offense and get their looks.”
An 18-6 run by the Skyhawks all but ended any hope for the Panthers to claw back into the game as the black and gold outscored the visiting team 18-13 in the final frame.
Scott (4-7) buried nine 3-point shots in the game and consistently pushed the ball up the floor in the contest.
Lincoln County shots weren’t finding the net on this night which is not a characteristic of Plumley’s squad this season.
Braxton Dolin, Cavin White and Jaren Gaiter proved a terrific trio for Scott on Friday, scoring 46 points, collectively.
“Lincoln County is much better than what they showed tonight and especially if they get healthy and get Tully back,” said Ballard. “We absolutely will not take them for granted. We know we are good offensively and we’re hard to defend but our big takeaway is that if we can make the commitment to defend the way we have the last few nights we can take ourselves to the next level and be a really good team.”
Scott scoring — Dolin 17, White 15, Gaiter 14, Carden 8, Sharps 6, Stone 5, Setser 2, McCoy 1
Lincoln Co. scoring — Blankenship 16, Koontz 6, Sanders 5, Blevins 5, Carpenter 4, Phillips 3
SCOTT — 24 9 18 18 — 69
LINC — 11 9 6 13 — 39