Some things are well worth the wait. Two years ago the Fort Wayne Northrop at Kokomo game was snowed out and I didn't get a chance to see Bryson Scott. Last year Kokomo and Northrop lost in the morning session of the Marion Regional and I missed a rematch of Kokomo's regular season win over Northrop in the night game. I was busy a few times earlier this year, but tonight I finally got to see Northrop play as they headed to Memorial Gym.
My Kats had won 26 in a row at home and there was a great crowd treated to a fantastic game. Kokomo won 65-61 in overtime despite 26 points from Bryson Scott. Hakim Burnett broke a 61-61 tie with two free throws with 21.5 seconds left in overtime. On the final possession it was Bryson's twin brother, Brenton, who took the final shot, missing a runner in the lane with a second left that Kokomo's Tayler Persons rebounded. Persons was fouled with 0.4 seconds left and hit both shots to seal it.
Bryson was a major reason hat Northrop would not go away. These two teams could easily play again for the Marion Regional title in two weeks, and that would be a great rematch. There were 17 lead changes and 10 ties, with Bryson hitting clutch shot after clutch shot. He was only 6 of 15 from the floor, but his fourth quarter and overtime is when he hit most of his shots from the field:
- With 2:43 left and having not hit a jumper all night I was concerned about his jump shooting ability. Bryson knocked down a huge three with a hand in his face at the top of the key. It gave Northrop a 50-48 lead.
- After Kokomo tied it at 50 Bryson hit two free throws with 2:21 left to put Northrop back up 52-50.
- Bryson tied it in regulation with a basket I was able to catch here with 1:09 left.
- With 1:14 left in overtime Bryson scored inside to give Northrop a 59-58 lead.
- As part of his 11 for 14 night from the line Bryson canned two clutch free throws with 42.9 left in overtime to tie it at 61-61.
Bryson also beat the final buzzer of the first half on a nice backdoor cut and reverse layup to put Northrop in front 23-22 at halftime. It is part of the video here, as he is No. 23 in orange.
What was interesting is that he is a guard, but he regularly played down low against Kokomo's 6'6" junior forward Erik Bowen. Bowen had a huge game last year against Northrop with 23 points and 11 rebounds, but tonight he had 14 and 6. Defensively, Scott drew Kokomo's junior all-star candidate Tayler Persons. Persons is on pace to equal D.J. Balentine's scoring prowess and finish in the top four all-time at Kokomo with Balentine, Jim Ligon, and Jimmy Rayl. That's rare territory, but Bryson kept him scoreless for three quarters. Persons didn't get on track until the fourth quarter and even then he scored eight of his 17 points from the line.
Persons hit the biggest shot of the night after a Bryson Scott basket. When Scott scored to put Northrop in front 59-58 with 1:14 left Persons hit his only triple of the night just nine seconds later. It was a bit of revenge for Persons. He had the ball ready to take the final shot in regulation but Bryson forced him into a five-second call and a turnover.
That is what Purdue fans will love about Bryson. He brings tenacity on defense that is sorely lacking. I asked him about where this comes from when I had a chance to talk to him after the game:
"My intensity comes from me being the competitor that I am and my passion for the game. It makes me want to go out there and win. I try to keep it under wraps, but I just want to win so bad it just comes out. Hopefully I can bring that type of intensity to Purdue, but maintain it a little better."
That intensity was apparent as his three-pointer saw him show emotion on the floor in a big moment, as did his tying basket in regulation. At one time it went a little overboard, as he earned a double-technical with Kokomo's LaBradford Sebree in the second half, but he definitely has a give-a-shit turned on.
What stood out to me in the interview was how hungry he is. I asked him about how some look for him to be a Chris Kramer-type freshman next season:
"I'm going to come in with a whole bunch of intensity. Being a freshman doesn't matter to me. I am going to be ready for any opportunity that coach Painter gives me. I am going to take advantage and be as intense as I can on defense, offense and see what happens from there."
Another good thing is that Bryson already has a great relationship in place with all the pieces next year:
"I have a good relationship with Rapheal because he's from Fort Wayne and I used to work out with him all the time. I know Ronnie Johnson because I have played with him a few times. The other guys I really don't know, but I talk to them on official visits. They seem like pretty cool guys and I am ready to get in there and compete with them."
He also feels he can add things as a bit of a missing piece, as he is watching this current team very closely.
"I feel like bringing intensity every day is what I can add. I want to bring that defensive presence every day. I want to attack on offense and do everything that I can to make sure I am leading the team to take care of business."
Bryson may have scored 26 points in this one, but it was his heart that stood out to me. He has hustle and a fearlessness that is evident on the court. His jump shot wasn't working, so he used his toughness to go down low on backdoor cuts to either score or get to the line as the video shows. He has a fire that is very similar to Kramer. He is willing to work as well.
I hope that Bryson's fire becomes infectious, because it is sorely needed. I don't think he is really a point guard because Brenton brought the ball up more tonight, but he wasn't afraid to guard Kokomo's best player. If he can develop a more consistent jumper he can add that to his ability to get to the rim. In transition and the open floor he was fantastic, but Kokomo's tenacious 2-3 zone frustrated him most of the night.
That was really his biggest weakness. Kokomo plays one of the best zones in high school basketball and for most of the game he couldn't do a lot from the perimeter. His teammates Brenton and Corey Womack hit some big threes that softened the zone a little for him. This is when he decided to get behind it and wait for passes, like the buzzer-beater reverse layup at the end of the first half. He got to the line 14 times, which were the only free throws Northrop shot. He got there because of an adjustment though. He saw something wasn't working and changed his game to make it work. That led to 17 second half points after only nine in the first half. 14 came in the fourth quarter or overtime.
Bryson Scott is a tenacious, fearless player. He epitomizes the toughness that Boilermaker basketball is known for. He might be a tad slow defensively, but coach painter can definitely work with him and turn him into a nasty on the ball defender. Purdue fans are going to love him.