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Lady Eagles roll past Baptist Hill 60-44, advance to Lower State championship

By Eddie Litaker | Sports contributor
Posted 2/25/20

SUMMERTON -- The Scott's Branch High School varsity girls basketball team went into halftime of its 1A quarterfinal matchup against Baptist Hill on Monday tied, 18-18, after the Lady Bobcats scored the final eight points of the first half.

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Lady Eagles roll past Baptist Hill 60-44, advance to Lower State championship

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SUMMERTON -- The Scott's Branch High School varsity girls basketball team went into halftime of its 1A quarterfinal matchup against Baptist Hill on Monday tied, 18-18, after the Lady Bobcats scored the final eight points of the first half.

By the end of the third quarter the Lady Eagles had put up 30 points and doubled up the visitors, 48-24, heading into the final eight minutes.

Baptist Hill rallied to cut the lead to 10, 51-41, about midway through the final quarter but Scott's Branch held on down the stretch for a 60-44 win that secured a spot in Friday's Lower State championship game at Florence Center.

Scott's Branch will carry a 16-4 record into its 4 p.m. meeting with Military Magnet. Military as the Lady Eagles continue their quest to win back-to-back state titles. Magnet defeated Lake View 63-54 in overtime in their quarterfinal game on Monday.

"We just wanted to make sure that they knew that there was a whole nother half to be played," Scott's Branch head coach Lucinda Stukes said of her halftime comments to her team. "I told them it was 0-0 now because we went in tied, so just a whole new game heading into the second half. I think they heard that and they responded. They knew that they wanted to make it to the next step, so they responded."

Stukes said the key to her team's ability to pull away in the third quarter was its pressure defense and being able to turn turnovers into quick offense. After putting just 18 points on the board in the whole first half, Scott's Branch came out on a 15-0 run over the first 2:37 of the third.

"We know that we play pressure defense, and that's something that we did not do in the first half," Stukes said. "We were actually going to try to conserve a little bit of energy because we had some people out, but coming into the second half we knew that we could sub a little bit better and get some more energy off the bench. We just wanted to make sure that when we came out in the second half that we came out strong and played our defense, played our style of basketball."

Just as quickly as it seemed the Lady Eagles had put the game away with their strong third-quarter effort, the Lady Bobcats came storming back with a 17-3 run. Rosalyn Bryant, who passed the 1,000-point mark in the first half and led all scorers with 22 points, scored eight during that stretch to help pull her team within 10 at the 3:51 mark.

"Just something that we say all the time, no matter if we're up by 20 or 10, basketball is a game of runs," Stukes said of her words during a timeout at that point. "They went on a run and they got stops, so we had to come back and do the same thing. We had to get some stops and slow them down. They made some tough shots. (Bryant) made a very tough shot down here and kind of got them going, so we just wanted to make sure that we continued to kind of keep our energy up."

Senior guard Teja Madison led four Lady Eagles in double figures, finishing with 16 points, nine rebounds and three steals. Junior guard Cambria Parker, the 2-time 1A Player of the Year, added 12 points, six steals, five blocked shots, three rebounds and one assist.

Freshman forward Rosandra Bennett and senior guard Jazlynn Bowman both closed with double-doubles. Bennett had 12 points, 10 rebounds and one steal, while Bowman ended with 11 points, 13 boards, five steals and three assists.

"Jazlynn, Cambria and Teja all average double figures, so that was expected," Stukes said. "What we were so glad to have was Rosandra Bennett kind of show up. We've just got to get stronger in the paint and hopefully some of our other bigs can kind of contribute a little bit more. Our guard play is really good, and I think it kind of propels us."

Jessica White added 12 points for the Lady Bobcats.

After defending their home floor for the final time this season, Stukes looks forward to her team playing Friday on a floor that has become almost like a second home floor to the Lady Eagles over the past few seasons with the opportunity to fulfill a season-long goal.

"Coming in (to the season), over the summer, that's all we talked about, getting back to state and trying to do it again," Stukes said. "This is our third year in a row going to lower state. Hopefully it feels like home when we get there, but we know there's still work to be done. We want to kind of take that next step and this is just one more step closer to that. The goal is to win another state championship and continue to do that, continue to build on the culture of winning that we've already established here at Scott's Branch."