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Basketball: Danes sprint past Forsyth Central in region debut
Joseph Scott
Denmark senior Joseph Scott connects on one of the three 3-point shots Thursday during the Danes' 60-40 win against Forsyth Central. - photo by David Roberts

Denmark might not be as tall as in years past. The Danes are just as quick, however.

Denmark displayed a dizzying pace Thursday during a 60-40 win against Forsyth Central, using their frenetic tempo to score 30 of the first 39 points and build a comfortable lead by halftime. 

"They're starting to figure out how to execute a little bit," Denmark head coach Tyler Whitlock said. "Obviously, Sutton's a great playmaker, but other guys are starting to figure out their spots and get their teammates in those spots to be able to score."

Denmark took control with a 20-0 run midway through the first half, fueled by 3-point shots from sophomore Stefan Davidov and senior Joseph Scott.

Scott led the Danes with a game-high 20 points, also stealing three passes and draining four 3-pointers.

"We're going to have to have that from him the rest of the season if we're going to find success," Whitlock said. "He's got to be more aggressive. He's a great passer, but we also need him to put the ball in the basket."

Scott was active on the boards, too, grabbing four rebounds throwing down a two-hand jam and nearly connecting with Sutton Smith on an alley-oop.

At 6-foot-6, Scott is the tallest option for a Denmark team that boasted seven players 6-foot-3 or taller a year ago. 

Scott averaged 9.7 points and 6.3 rebounds per game last season, but Denmark lost three of its top rebounders, including current Augusta University freshman Adonnis Tolbert. 

The physical makeup of Denmark's team puts more responsibility on Scott's shoulders this season. Whitlock believes he's ready for that role.

"He's really thriving in that situation," Whitlock said. "I think he was ready for it last year. Just given the team that we had, with Robert there and obviously Sutton doing what he did, and we had Adonnis, it's just hard to find the ball a lot of times. I think he's been ready for it, he's been anxious for it and he showed tonight what he's been working to get toward."

Forsyth Central senior Dylan Carter is in a similar situation.

Dylan Carter
Forsyth Central senior Dylan Carter drives toward the basket Thursday during a 60-40 loss to Denmark. - photo by David Roberts

The lone returning starter from last year's team, Carter led the Bulldogs with 17 points and figures to be among the team's top scorers each time.

"He's been a great leader for us, and he's going to be face guarded," Forsyth Central head coach Brandon Hutchins said. "Guys are going to key on him, but he does a good job of trying to get off screens. He's a great shooter, he's been a great leader and he's just going to have to battle — and the kid battles. He's battled ever since I've been here for the past two years."

Carter scored Central's first points of the game, a 3-point shot that answered Scott's first trey. 

Six-foot-10 junior Eli Chol scored eight points and had several blocks. Chol is one inexperienced player who figures to see an expanded role this season.

"We're young as far as experience, because we graduated a lot of seniors," Hutchins said. "(Denmark is) a very good basketball team -- very well coached. I think once our guys adjusted and saw it for 16 minutes, I thought our guys played with a lot of heart and a lot of effort in the second half. I think the game slowed down, and I thought maybe we grew up a little bit, and they started trusting what we were doing offensively. I was proud of our guys for their effort in the second half."

Smith had 10 points for the Danes, leading the team with eight assists. Junior Kourtland Tolbert had nine points and five rebounds, while junior Jayden Hilliman scored eight points and logged five rebounds.

Central (1-3, 0-1 Region 6-7A) used a box-and-one defense to try to slow Smith, but Denmark's point guard consistently found the open player, allowing Scott to see open looks.

"That sucker's so fast, and he's so good with the basketball. He's an outstanding point guard," Hutchins said. "I mean, he's a coach's dream for a point guard like that to handle the ball. We tried to throw a little at him, but I think when we went to our base man in the second half, our guys responded very well."

Denmark (5-0, 1-0 Region 6-7A) will also lean on Smith's savvy ball-handling this year, and on defense, the Danes are learning to take charges.

"For us, it's just about being solid defensively," Whitlock said. "Sprint back, don't allow transition baskets and just keep guys in front of you. We're not as big as we were, so we've got to play a lot better collectively together defensively. We've put a big emphasis this year on taking charges — and we got a couple tonight — because we can't go up there and block the shots anymore. So we've got to be disciplined in that and force them into the shots that we want them to take."