ALCOA — The game went according to script for three quarters.
And then Scott High showed up.
The Highlanders stormed back from nine points down in the fourth quarter of Friday’s District 4-AA first round game to defeat Kingston, 72-69.
The Yellow Jackets had swept the Highlanders in the regular season, and Scott High hadn’t won a district game since upsetting Austin-East with a half-court buzzer-beater in the league opener in December.
As such, Kingston was the favorite in Friday’s elimination game, and looked like it for three quarters, opening up a nine-point lead as the fourth quarter began.
But the Highlanders used a 25-13 run to close the game and keep their season alive, moving on to the district semifinals and guaranteeing themselves at least three more games.
Trey Morrow had 25 points and 12 rebounds, along with six assists and three blocked shots. Fellow freshman Noah Buttram added 15 points, while Logan Goodman finished with 13.
The main story, though, was the free throw line. Scott High had a 19-8 advantage at the stripe, making 19 of 26 attempts to Kingston’s 8 of 17.
The line was particularly important in the pivotal fourth quarter. After Kingston had gone on a 22-14 run in the third to seize control of the game, the Highlanders roared back with 25 fourth quarter points, despite only having five field goals in the period. The rest of it came at the line, where they were 14 of 17. Morrow was 7 of 9 from the line in the fourth.
Kingston, on the other hand, was just 1 of 5 from the line in the fourth quarter and three times missed the front end of one-plus-one opportunities, leaving potential points by the wayside.
The Highlanders and Yellow Jackets played close to even in the first half. Bryson Russ scored five of his nine points in the opening period, and Russ, Goodman and Kadon Babb all knocked down 3-point shots. But Kingston hit four 3-pointers in the opening period alone, and jumped to an 18-15 lead.
The second quarter was the Trey Morrow-Harper Neal show. Morrow scored 13 points in the second quarter — and so did Neal, who finished with a game-high 27.
But in a sign of what would become problematic for the Yellow Jackets, Neal connected on only one of four free throws in the second quarter.
The rest of Neal’s team went 3 of 4 from the line in the second quarter, but no one else scored a field goal. The Highlanders missed 2 of 3 from the line in the second quarter, but Russ and Goodman both knocked down shots to help pull the Highlanders to within one at the half, 34-33.
Kingston got on a roll in the third quarter, out-scoring Scott 22-14 to open up a nine-point lead that appeared to have the Yellow Jackets headed to the district semifinals. Buttram, who had been limited to a pair of free throws in the first half, started to get hot, with six points, but Kingston was able to hold Morrow in check to open the nine-point lead.
The fourth quarter was a different story. Buttram knocked down an early 3-pointer and had seven points in the final period, and then the free throw line kicked in.
Kingston had more field goals in the final period than Scott High did, six to four, but still saw the nine-point lead evaporate as the Highlanders knocked down their free throws.
For the game, the Highlanders hit 46 percent of their shots from the field and 76 percent from the line.
SCOTT (72): Morrow 25, Buttram 15, Goodman 13, Babb 6, Tucker 3, Owens 1.
KINGSTON (69): Neal 27, Luttrell 14, Moore 11, Raymer 6, Diggs 6, Heidle 5.