Hail to the Chiefs: Natchitoches Central earns first state banner

By By Albert Burford / American Press

It was going to take something special for Natchitoches Central to dethrone Scotlandville.

The Hornets entered the game as

back-to-back state champions and had appeared in four consecutive Class

5A title games. Natchitoches

Central had made two trips to the Top 28 in school history, both

semifinal losses.

But, on Friday, the Chiefs used their size advantage and rode their starting five to the school’s first state title in a 60-53

win against Scotlandville.

The Hornets failed to corral Natchitoches Central (28-3) big man Cameron Lard, who racked up 24 points, 10 rebounds and six

blocks in the win.

Of Natchitoches Central’s 60 points, 46 came in the paint.

“The battle was won in the paint,” said

Scotlandville coach Carlos Sample. “I don’t think we put enough ball

pressure on their

guards to deflect balls going into the paint and at the same time,

I don’t think we shot the ball as well as we were capable

of shooting the basketball. We got disoriented offensively and

took a few bad shots and that led to a lot of easy baskets.”

Shooting troubles plagued Scotlandville (33-2), which ended the game with a 32.2 field goal percentage. Natchitoches Central

shot 75 percent from the field in the first half and finished the game at 63.2 percent.

“They contested some shots,” Sample said. “(Their length) did play a factor. I think we were a little impatient and didn’t

do a good job of attacking the bigs.”

The Chiefs struggled with Scotlandville’s defensive pressure early on, turning the ball over seven times in the first quarter.

Scotlandville recorded 10 steals in the first half.

“(Scotlandville is) incredibly good on the ball and in passing lanes,” said Natchitoches Central coach Micah Coleman. “In

the second half, we were a little more comfortable. We expected some of those jumps we were getting in the full court and

half court. We could see it coming a little better.”

Early in the fourth quarter, Natchitoches Central began to pull away, stretching the lead to 47-39 on an alley-oop to Lard.

LaMarcus Lee, who finished with 19 points, and Jordan Adebutu, who scored 18, kept Scotlandville in the game down the stretch,

but couldn’t cut the deficit to fewer than five points.

Two Natchitoches Central players outside of the Chiefs’ starting five saw the floor, and none for more than one minute.

Brandon Rachal, Austin Guy and Danny Cohen all finished with 10 points for Natchitoches.

For Coleman and the Chiefs, the championship was a dream they began to realize was attainable as the season wore on.

“We started talking about the history,” Coleman said. “We don’t have a championship banner. We don’t have a state title hanging

in our rafters. We started talking about a legacy and things we wanted to do.”