Fort Scott Community College's men came into Wednesday night's Jayhawk Conference-Division II game against Highland as losers of three of their last four games, with the lone win coming against the Washburn junior varsity. The Greyhounds had also lost two games in Region VI play during that stretch.
But the 'Hounds scored the first 9 points of the second half and were able to use that as a catalyst to dominate the second half and go on to a 69-67 win that wasn't as close as the final score because the Scotties hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
It was a total turnaround for the Greyhounds on both sides of the ball. They allowed Highland to shoot 61 percent from the floor in the first half while they shot a not-too-bad 47 percent. In the second half, Fort Scott shot 62 percent from the field and held the Scotties to 35 percent on 10 of 29.
"Defense," Fort Scott head coach Michael Cook said about the second-half turnaround. "(When) you hold them to 27 in the second half, it's defense. We got deflections.
"Everybody who played tonight contributed. Our bigs did a good job, not getting silly fouls. We adjusted, we took away the high post. Our pressure needs to get better but our defense was good in the second half."
Though the Greyhounds (3-1 conference, 3-2 region, 11-12 overall) led 14-9 six minutes in, Highland (2-1, 3-2, 16-6) used a 10-2 run to take control. Fort Scott didn't let the Scotties too far up until Ryan Haskins and Stephon Jackson made back-to-back 3-pointers to extend the lead to 40-33 with nine seconds left. Brolon Moton scored at the buzzer for the 'Hounds, sticking back a teammate's missed shot.
"We suffered some mental breakdowns, giving them wide-open shots for 3," Cook said. "(Haskins) shoots 48 percent on 3's for the year and we're giving him wide-open shots. That's just not good enough."
Jayson Stepter scored for the Greyhounds out of the locker room, then Anthony Cerda drove in for a layup and Tyler Zinn followed with a conversion of a steal. The Scotties missed their first 5 shots of the half as Fort Scott took a 44-40 lead.
Highland scored 7 of the next 10 but that only tied the score as the Scotties never led again.
Zinn hit a 3-pointer and Stepter followed with a basket to make it 58-51 with 7:44 to go.
Highland got within one point, 64-63, with 1:31 remaining when Haskins made a 3-pointer from the top of the key. But Dejuan Sherman stuck back his own missed shot to make it a 3-point game.
Leland Harvey went to the free-throw line for Highland with 41 seconds left but made only the first of two shots. Dametrius Walker, who missed the last three games, came down the other way to make it a 4-point game with 16 seconds left.
Walker had just 10 points in his return but Cook said it was his energy that made a difference.
"We had out catalyst back," Cook said. "He only had 10 points but he gave us energy out there tonight. I thought (Anthony) Cerda played well tonight. He understands what his role is. If we can get guys to buy in and just do their roles, I think we'll be better."
Cerda led the Greyhounds with 18 points, making 4 threes as part of his 7-for-15 shooting night.
Jackson led Highland with 22 points but scored only 6 in the second half, going 2-for-8 from the field. Haskins added 15 points and 5 triples and Jaquan Daniels finished with 10.
The win put defending co-champion Fort Scott back on top of the conference standings, half a game of Highland and Kansas City, which beat the 'Hounds a week ago today. In the region, the Greyhounds are tied with the Scotties and Johnson County for the No. 2 seed in the post-season.
"We love saying we're (defending) conference champions, so let's see if we can finish strong," Cook says. "This is the time where we usually turn things around."
HIGHLAND: S.Jackson 8-15 1-1 22, A.Jackson 0-2 0-0 0, Haskins 5-9 0-0 15, English 1-7 3-4 5, Davis 0-0 0-0 0, Daniels 5-8 0-0 10, O'Connor 1-3 0-1 2, Jasper 0-1 0-0 0, Scudder 1-2 2-4 4, Peabody 1-1 0-0 0, Harvey 2-4 3-4 7. TOTALS: 24-52 9-14 67.
FORT SCOTT: Walker 3-6 3-4 10, Moore Jr. 2-3 1-2 5, Zinn 3-7 1-2 6, Cerda 7-15 0-0 18, Stepter 3-3 0-1 6, Miller 1-2 0-0 3, Sherman 1-5 3-4 5, Moton 3-5 0-0 6, Freeman 4-5 0-0 8. TOTALS: 27-51 8-13 69.
Highland................................... 40 27 -- 67
Fort Scott................................. 34 34 -- 69
Three-point field goals: Highland 10-24 (S.Jackson 5-9, Haskins 5-9, English 0-1, O'Connor 0-1, Jasper 0-1, Daniels 0-3), Fort Scott 7-18 (Cerda 4-8, Walker 1-2, Miller 1-2, Zinn 1-4, Sherman 0-2).
Total fouls: Highland 13, Fort Scott 14. Fouled out: None.
Rebounds: Highland 32 (Harvey 11), Fort Scott 28 (Zinn 6). Assists: Highland 10 (4 with 1 each), Fort Scott 16 (Cerda 6). Turnovers: Highland 17, Fort Scott 9. Steals: Highland 5 (Daniels 2), Fort Scott 13 (Zinn 3, Cerda 3). Blocked shots: Highland 2 (Davis, Scudder), Fort Scott 1 (Stepter).