Everything seemed to go right for the Smith-Cotton Tigers in their 68-50 win over Warrensburg to close the regular season on Friday.
S-C lead 20-4 after one quarter and never looked back as they avenged a pair of earlier losses to their arch rival.
“We were just trying to stop one player we had been focusing on in practice and we were just trying to do the best job that we could,” said Smith-Cotton’s Dante Scroggins.
That player was Warrensburg’s Dakota Jones, who scored 11 points in the game while facing tough double teams from Dakota Brown and Blake Allee-Lightfoot every time he touched the ball.
“He’s a great player and we were fortunate enough this time to be able to take him out of it,” said Smith-Cotton coach Ray Hughes. “You can never let him get going because once he gets going it’s game over. Our guys just did a good job. It’s a credit to them to take him away.”
Brown made his mark defensively even when not marking Jones. Brown had a pair of steals as did Spencer Ruckman.
“Dakota Brown and Spencer Ruckman did an outstanding job of sacrificing themselves to play a role,” Hughes said.
Bergman finished with 18 points, including an eight-point first quarter. He also had 15 rebounds and two blocks.
“They don’t really have anybody my height so we started the game inside-out,” he said.
Scroggins had seven rebounds and six assists to go with 21 points. Chance Johnson scored 15 points and Dalton Zaremba added 11.
Smith-Cotton jumped out to a 20-4 lead after one quarter, scoring on 10 of their first 12 possessions as the visitors shot 1 for 11 from the field and turned the ball over three times. Bergman got the hosts started with four quick points before Smith-Cotton began getting transition chances. A Ruckman steal led to a Johnson runner. On the next possession, a strong Bergman block led to a Scroggins layup. Scroggins scored on a drive on the next Smith-Cotton trip down the floor as well, then made it 12-2 when he converted a Dalton Zaremba steal into a layup.
“I told my teammates to look for me, I would be open,” Scroggins said. “They did what we were supposed to do.”
Smith-Cotton hit 8 of 13 in from the field in the first quarter to help get off to a fast start.
“We had a good week, we got them rested,” Hughes said. “We watched a lot of film and didn’t do a lot physically so they were fresh. They came out and had the look in their eyes.”
Turnovers and missed shots slowed Smith-Cotton down early in the second quarter before Johnson reignited the offense with a drive and a 3-pointer to make it 29-10. After a couple of Warrensburg baskets, Johnson struck again just before the half, hitting a runner in the lane to make it 33-14.
The closest Warrensburg came in the second half was 14 points midway through the third but Zaremba answered with a pair of baskets and the lead was back to 48-28 after three. In the fourth the visitors cut the lead to 15 before Bergman scored a basket inside and Scroggins added a long jumper and a dunk.
“We didn’t want them getting the bonus because we know Jones won’t miss free throws,” Bergman said.