The O’Hara Celtics broke the game open in the third quarter to beat Smith-Cotton 70-55 on Friday.
The Celtics led 32-30 at halftime but outscored the Tigers 22-7 in the third quarter, sinking 10 of 16 from the field in the quarter while S-C shot 3 of 14.
“They’re a good team,” said Smith-Cotton coach Brennan Scanlon. “I thought our effort was good, especially the first half, I knew we needed a good third quarter to keep it close. It just didn’t happen.”
The Celtics got 28 points from senior guard Dezmond McDaniel, including four 3-pointers, and 23 points from junior low-post man Arinze Mgbemena.
“You pick your poison,” Scanlon said. “They’re scoring from the perimeter, Dezmond didn’t miss many shots. Then you have their big kid scoring in there. It just wasn’t our night.”
Smith-Cotton led 21-17 after a back-and-forth first quarter, getting a jumper from Chance Johnson, a dunk from Dante Scroggins and a 3-pointer from Gavin Jones in the first four possessions. O’Hara was hitting its shots over that stretch as well and led 10-7 before Scroggins tied it with a 3-pointer. That sparked a 7-0 Tigers run. S-C made it a 19-12 lead with a 3-pointer from Zion Buckner and a drive from Scroggins.
Early in the second, Smith-Cotton took a 23-17 lead on a putback by Kendall Weymuth.
“The first half was one of our better halves of the year,” Scanlon said. “That third quarter got away. You can only call so many timeouts.”
Despite facing a Celtics defense which likes to press, the Tigers turned the ball over just nine times in the game with Buckner and Johnson able to work the ball through the press.
“We took care of the ball fairly well,” Scanlon said.
Scanlon said fatigue took a toll later in the game.
“Our depth is not there with Keoni (Hale) out,” he said. “Guys we had on the bench aren’t ready to compete with a caliber team like O’Hara.”
Scroggins scored 23 points to lead the Tigers.
O’Hara won the junior varsity game 59-47.
The Tigers led 10-7 after one quarter before the Celtics pulled ahead with 18 points in the second.
Korbin Scott led S-C with 10 points. Zach Gwaltney added nine.
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