By KEVIN THOMPSON
SCOTT CITY — A little over a week ago, Scott City was busy winning a state football title. That cut into the Beavers' basketball practice time.
Good thing they're are loaded with talent, using their skills to hand an undefeated Denver South team its first loss of the season, 85-74, on the opening night of the Clarion Inn Southwest Classic.
The Beavers led by 25 points late in the third period before the Rebels were able to make the score close in the fourth, outscoring Scott City 32-22 in that frame.
Drew Kite made the paint his own in the first half, scoring 18 of his team-high 22 points in that stretch.
Joey Meyer had eight in that time, as the two big men scored 26 of the Beavers' 40 points in the first half. The duo also grabbed 13 boards in that half, two more than the Rebels' first-half team total.
Scott City worked the early lead to 12 points a number of times, then to 18 late in the half.
Solid inside play, along with 13 Denver South turnovers and 16 fouls, established the Beaver presence in its opening half of the game.
But it was also fortunate for the Beavers that the Rebels were having issues of their own, because Scott City didn't make a field goal in the final four minutes of the second period, but still took a 40-27 lead at halftime.
It was a half coach Glenn O'Neil was happy to see after limited practice time.
The second half, not so much.
Scoring 85 points was a great thing, he said. Giving up 74, not so good.
It's more points than they gave up in any game of their championship season last year.
This first game was a crucible, and O'Neil knew it was going to be against a tough opponent.
"I was pretty happy with the first half because we've been pretty yucky in practice sometimes," he said. "The main thing was to come out and work out some of the kinks, and learn from whatever mistakes we make tonight."
The mistakes were plentiful enough, he noted, especially with turnovers and making some bad choices, but his team did a lot of good things, as well.
One of those good things was holding Mark Dean to just 10 points, 11 below his season average.
On the other hand, Ibrahim Sylla, who had three fouls in the first half, played foul-free in the second half and led all scorers with 25 points.
Scott City relied on its usual balanced scoring.
In addition to Kite's 22 points, Meyer had 18, Brett O'Neil had 19 and Trey O'Neil added 13.
Scott City finished with 23 rebounds, with the bulk of those in the first half, perhaps a sign of not being in full basketball shape yet.
The Beavers also made 27 free throws, but they missed 15.
Coach O'Neil is glad to get this first game out of the way, but his team has some things to work out.
"We've got to clean up the turnovers, for one thing. And we got caught watching on the boards," he said. "You've got to be pleased to beat a team that came in 3-0 and already had a tournament under their belt."
Outside shots weren't falling in the first half, but they fell in the second.
"I think some of that is legs as far as trying to get a second wind. Some of it could be jitters for the first game, too, whether you've had a lot of basketball or not," he said. "Right now, we just need time."
That time is short as the Beavers host Dumas (Texas) today. The Demons were 40-point losers to Holcomb on Thursday.
Denver South 9 18 15 32 -- 74
Scott City 17 23 23 22 -- 85
Denver South (3-1) — Purifoy 0 3-3 3, Garcia 4 0-0 12, Sylla 9 7-11 25, French 2 0-0 5, Hopkins 2 0-0 4, Dean 5 0-2 10, Chavez 2 1-2 6, Moore 2 0-0 6, Wariner 1 0-0 3. Totals: 27 11-18 74.
Scott City (1-0) — B. O'Neil 6 4-6 19, Wells 0 2-2 2, T. O'Neil 5 1-2 13, Hess 1 4-4 6, Habiger 1 2-5 5, J. Meyer 7 4-9 18, Kite 6 10-16 22. Totals: 20 27-44 85.
3-point goals — DS 9 (Garcia 4, French 1, Chavez 1, Moore 2, Wariner 1), SC 6 (B. O'Neil 3, T. O'Neil 2, Habiger 1).