On a night when the offense was struggling, Scott City’s defense was more than up to the challenge.
Missing their first seven shots from the field, the SCHS boys never did find their offensive rhythm in Tuesday’s Class 3A sub-state opener against Lakin. But even an off night for the Beavers is still pretty good by anyone else’s standards and they had no trouble getting past the Broncs, 64-35, in their final home game of the season.
“Even though we try not to think about it, we knew we were the better team and I don’t think we were probably as focused as we should have been offensively,” says senior guard Austin Habiger. “I think that’s what started our offensive struggles and it just seemed to carry over through the whole game.”
It probably didn’t help that the Beavers had already defeated Lakin by 34 points earlier in the season.
“We had inside shots we weren’t finishing. We had outside shots we weren’t finishing. This was the time to get that out of our system,” Habiger says.
This was anything but a typical night for SCHS which went nearly five minutes before getting their first field goal. That came on a three-point play by senior pivot Drew Kite who converted a three-point play at the 3:06 mark which put Scott City on top to stay, 7-6.
That also kicked off a stretch when Kite scored 12 of his game high 28 points while the Beavers were opening up a 16-8 cushion.
Kite was the lone bright spot offensively as he dominated inside with 16 rebounds to go along with 8-of-8 shooting from the charity stripe. Kite’s inside presence and power was evident with his ability to complete four three-point plays.
But, like the rest of the team, he wasn’t satisfied.
“I don’t feel that I played all that well,” he says. “Coach (Glenn O’Neil) said we got beat on the boards in the first half. We’re used to getting the defensive rebounds, kicking the ball out and running. That didn’t happen as well as we’re used to seeing. We had to crash the boards a little harder and that kept us from getting into our transition game.”
“Drew had a double-double before halftime,” says O’Neil. “He carried us until the mid-second quarter when others finally got involved (offensively).”
The head coach said a couple of poor practices leading into the game, along with the winter weather that interrupted their regular schedule, may have played some role.
“But there was no fire in their eyes, no sense of urgency. I know that’s hard to imagine after you’ve beaten a team by 29 points,” said the head coach. “We talked about it after the game. I believe it will be different when we play on Friday.”
The Beavers were able to find their offensive rhythm more in the second half. They scored 27 points in the third period - nearly matching their 33 points in the first half.
“In the second half we played more the way we expected. We started getting better looks, which helped,” Kite says.
Even though the team allowed just 35 points, O’Neil said the defensive stops weren’t the kind that allowed them to get into their transition game.
“We wanted to get more pressure on the ball and force turnovers,” says O’Neil. The Beavers had some success doing that with 20 turnovers in the first three quarters. “Most of the turnovers we got led to dead balls. When you combine that with our lack of rebounding, we weren’t able to get the transition baskets that we count on.”
While SCHS looked better from the field in the second half, that didn’t carry over to the free throw line where they were a very uncharacteristic 16-of-30 for the night.
It’s a bit ironic that Scott City would have such a tough offensive night at the same time two players would reach the 1,000 point plateau for their careers.
Kite reached that impressive mark with 1:26 left in the opening period when he finished off a three-point play that put him at 1,001. Senior guard Brett O’Neil, better known for his ability to dish out assists, scored number 1,000 on a three-point play with 6:43 remaining in the first half.
O’Neil’s milestone was the start of an 11-0 scoring run which saw Scott City extend its lead to 27-12 when Habiger scored on a fastbreak layup.
The Beavers had another 10-0 scoring stretch midway through the third period that included back-to-back three-point plays by Kite which put the team on top, 51-24, with 2:31 on the clock. Senior guard Anthony Wilson’s three-point basket with :34 left in the quarter gave SCHS their largest lead of the night, 60-27, and set off the 30-point running clock for the final period.
Tyler Hess was the only other Beaver in double figures with 10 points and five steals while B. O’Neil added nine.