LAKE CHARLES – With the clock winding down toward to the conclusion and his team comfortably ahead Scotlandville basketball coach Carlos Sample allowed himself a moment to relish in his team’s latest accomplishment.
Sample walked toward his bench, stood on a chair and turned toward his jubilant supporters in the Burton Coliseum crowd and began urging them own, clapping his hands and extended the outer three fingers on each hand.
Top-seeded Scotlandville was enjoying another signature moment, a third consecutive state championship and sixth in 10 years with a 73-53 blowout victory Saturday over St. Augustine.
For the Hornets (34-2) they found solace in protecting the program’s tradition when naysayers questioned their ability to maintain their championship run after the loss of three-time All-State and Gatorade Player of the Year Javonte Smart.
“They took it on the chin a little bit when people downplayed them because Javonte left and we weren’t going to be as good as we’ve been in the past,” Sample said. “They took that, and it motivated them, and it motivated me also to coach angry and for them to play angry and here’s the outcome.”
Junior guard Reece Beekman, one of two returning starters, duplicated the feat of earning the championship game’s Outstanding Player for the second straight year. He scored a game-high 28 points, handed out nine assists and had six rebounds.
Fellow junior guard Tai’reon Joseph scored 26 points for the Hornets, which shot 53.3 percent (24 of 45) from the field and 56.3 percent (9 of 16) from 3-point range.
“Our goal was to try and wear him down,” St. Augustine coach Mitchell Johnson said. “Our goal was to contain No. 3 (Joseph) and No. 11 (Carvell Teasett). We did a great job on everybody else. No. 2 (Beekman) and No. 3 had a great game for them, and you’ve got to give those credit. They made plays.”
Scotlandville, which became the first team in Class 5A/Division I to win three consecutive state titles, outscored St. Augustine 41-26 in the second half with Beekman and Joseph combining for 26 of those points.
Another key area the Hornets parlayed was a distinct advantage in points off of turnovers with a 22-6 edge, forcing the Purple Knights (30-5) into 14 turnovers.
A 3-point play from Beekman kick-started Scotlandville to a solid finish over the remaining three minutes of the third quarter which resulted in a 49-36 lead.
Joseph knocked down a 3-pointer and Beekman a pair of free throws to help the Hornets maintain a double-digit lead the remainder of the way.
“Scotlandville’s a well-coached team,” Johnson said. “Coach does a great job and we’ve been battling for a few years now. They’re experience of being in the finals got them through what they needed to get through.”
It took four minutes to build a 20-point cushion (61-41) when Joseph, after draining a 3-pointer, converted a steal into a slam dunk with 3:51 to go.
The Hornets twice led by 22 points, the second time at 73-51 with 54.9 seconds left Beekman’s two free throws.
“I was surprised, but then again I wasn’t surprised because the way these guys play so hard, practice and bring it to the game,” Sample said.
Scotlandville never trailed in the game, jumping out to an 11-4 lead on Joseph’s three-point play.
St. Augustine, which was appearing in its first state final since 2011, never got any closer than two points despite Scotlandville encountering foul trouble over the last four minutes of the second quarter with Teasett and center Jonathan Horton on the bench with three fouls apiece.
Sample credited Morantz James and Zaheem Jackson for coming off the bench where they combined to score five points, but more importantly, helped stabilize the team until Teasett and Horton returned in the second half where the Hornets truly took off.
“It felt like we had a part to play to come out as state champions,” Beekman said. “Our hard work paid off for this ring.”