Democrat Sports Reporter
Helias scored 33 points in the second quarter to beat Smith-Cotton 71-46 on Tuesday night at Smith-Cotton High School.
The Jefferson City-based Crusaders led 13-12 after one quarter before opening the second with a 9-1 run. After the teams traded baskets, the Crusaders closed the second quarter with a 15-2 run.
After Isiah Sykes and Chance Johnson traded 3-pointers, Sykes drove to the basket, hitting the layup and drawing the foul. He missed the free throw, but Helias grabbed the rebound and found Sykes for another 3-pointer to make it 36-22.
Sykes scored 16 points in the second quarter alone and finished the game with 29.
“We wanted to contain, make him shoot contested jump shots, and if he penetrates … make him hit a tough floater,” said Smith-Cotton coach Ray Hughes. “He lives off that. He’s great at drawing the fouls, at going in, drawing fouls and finishing. We just want to rotate, get there and make him finish over the top. If he finishes, nice job. But we gave him the 3-point plays. The ability of them to get us in foul trouble really took an emotional edge off of us, and we can’t let it happen but it did in the first half.”
With both Albert Nash and Jacob Bergman in foul trouble in the second quarter, the Tigers went with a small lineup for the last few minutes of the half with Dante Scroggins and four guards. That left things open in the paint for Helias center Hale Hentges, and when Smith-Cotton brought double teams to limit him, he was able to find teammates on the perimeter.
“You’ve got to be ready to adjust, and you’ve got to be able to play through it,” Hughes said. “I thought that we didn’t display the patience that we needed at times. We made a 14-point lead into a 24- or 34-point lead. That’s how we looked at it, and we tried to get it all back at once, which is the natural tendency. We’re going to get better at those things.”
The Tigers came out hot in the first quarter with a steal by Bergman and a five-second call forcing turnovers on Helias’ first two possessions. Bergman came away with a blocked shot on the third Crusaders’ trip, and with a Spencer Ruckman 3-pointer and a Dalton Zaremba 3-point play, the Tigers led 6-2.
“We were trying to really be aggressive, as far as help, up on shooters, rotating and making the bigs have to work inside,” Hughes said. “We got in foul trouble (later in the half), and it made a difference as far as our aggressiveness. Once we took Jacob out of the game, that took away a little of our inside-outside. We’ve got to do a better job of being patient with the basketball and being under control.”
Helias rallied and eventually tied the game at 8 on a layup from Michael Tannehill with 3:03 to play in the quarter. The Crusaders led 13-9 before Zaremba closed the quarter with a 3-pointer to cut the lead to one.
Smith-Cotton limited Helias to nine points in the third quarter, six of those coming in the final two minutes, but the Tigers managed just three points. Following a Zaremba 3-pointer to open the half, Smith-Cotton missed its next nine shots from the field and turned the ball over four times in the quarter.
Smith-Cotton made a final run in the fourth quarter, as Scroggins hit a 3-pointer and a pair of layups and Gavin Jones hit a 3-pointer and a jumper to cut the lead to 65-44, but that was as close as the Tigers got.
Helias outrebounded Smith-Cotton in the game 46-31, including 15 offensive rebounds that led to 10 second-chance points. Scroggins led Smith-Cotton with six rebounds.
Zaremba had four steals and three assists.
Johnson, Scroggins and Zaremba each scored nine points to lead the Tigers.
Helias won the junior varsity game 59-45 despite 19 points from Smith-Cotton’s Keoni Hale.
Smith-Cotton will visit KC Center on Friday.