One game after matching his career-high in scoring, Southport freshman Paul Scruggs set another new mark with a 27-point night scored in an 86-60 win over Greenwood on Tuesday.
Scruggs, a talented 6-3 guard with a scholarship offer from Indiana, is at the forefront of a basketball revival at Southport, along with 6-10 sophomore Joey Brunk and 5-10 junior Malik Bennett.
“At the beginning of the year I don’t think we really trusted each other,” Scruggs said. “But as we play more games and have more practices, guys are starting to believe in each other.”
Southport, just 1-19 last season, started 1-4 under second-year coach Kyle Simpson. But the Cardinals have turned it on since, and with an 11-7 record have matched the program’s highest win total since 2008-09.
Scruggs (13.7 ppg, 7.0 rebounds, 3.1 assists), Brunk (15.2 ppg, 7.8 rebounds) and Bennett (14.1 ppg, 5.8 assists) are all receiving some level of Division I interest.
“I think early in the year we played like one guy had to do everything,” Simpson said. “And that hurt us. There were some games we lost because we didn’t understand how to play together. But Joey, Paul and Malik are playing really well and we’ve had other guys play really well in their roles.”
Scruggs, who is 18-for-24 from the field in his past two games, has visited Indiana twice for games this season. Purdue, Michigan and Xavier have also watched him and he planned to visit Kentucky for its game against Florida last weekend, but wasn’t able to due to a family sickness.
“I’m definitely keeping my options open and see what other colleges come in,” he said. “I like Indiana a lot, but I don’t plan on making any commitment too early.”
Brunk, who played as a freshman at Park Tudor, has a scholarship offer from New Mexico. Brunk took an unofficial visit to Xavier for its game against Providence two weeks ago.
“Xavier pounds the ball inside, which I liked to see,” he said. “They had a good crowd there and got the win, so it was a good visit.”
Brunk visited Indiana for Hoosier Hysteria and has also visited Purdue. Notre Dame and Michigan State are among other schools that have shown interest.
With a soft touch that has helped him shoot 65 percent from the field, Brunk is tough to defend around the basket. But he’s also adept at finding cutters around the basket when he’s double teamed.
“When know teams are going to try and take him away from us,” Simpson said. “But when he’s double and triple teamed, that’s going to open things up for other guys. Joey has a high basketball IQ. He’s starting to see that whether he’s shooting or passing, good things are going to happen. Joey’s progression has been great and is a big reason why we’re headed where headed.”
Simpson said Bennett has started to receive some interest from Eastern Illinois and IPFW.
“I think his recruitment is going to continue to grow,” Simpson said. “Sometimes I think he think he has to score to be the best player on the floor, but he’s learning it doesn’t have to be that way.”
Southport, which hasn’t won a sectional since 2000, will have to contend with Pike (11-7), Ben Davis (9-7), Perry Meridian (13-4) and improving Decatur Central (6-12) in Sectional 11. But the young Cardinals are starting to turn the corner, it appears.
“We’re all starting to figure it out,” Brunk said. “It’s a process, but it’s starting to happen.”
Carmel junior guard Ryan Cline picked up an offer from Belmont, his second Division I offer. Cline also has an offer from Northern Kentucky and has interest from Butler and Purdue, among other schools. … Lawrence Central senior guard Devin Heath-Granger committed to NAIA Goshen College this week. …Tech (18-2) is ranked No. 8 in the latest national rankings by MaxPreps. Class 4A top-ranked Carmel (16-1) is No. 23 according to MaxPreps. … Boys sectional pairings will be unveiled on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. on Fox Sports Indiana.