LAURINBURG — The Scotland High School basketball teams are back in action tonight at Lumberton, and boys and girls teams are facing the Pirates after different results in the last few games.
The girls team is going into Lumberton with a 3-0 record in the Southeastern Conference (5-7 overall) to face a Lumberton team that is 1-1 in the conference and 10-5 overall. Coach Janie Hodges team has won three out of the last four games, with the lone exception being the non-conference contest at New Hanover. Scotland lost that game 49-39.
While the girls look to start a winning streak and put distance between themselves and conference competitors, the Scotland boys are hoping a win will help propel them back into title contention. The Scots picked up their second victory of the season last week on Jan. 14 with a 43-37 win over Pinecrest, but then lost two close games to New Hanover and Hoke County to fall to 2-10 overall and 1-2 in the conference.
Coach Michael Malpass said if the team can leave Lumberton with a win, they might be able to catapult themselves back into the SEC race during the upcoming home games against Richmond and Purnell Swett.
“If we can win this one and come home and get the next two we’ll be right back in the mix. That’s the thing about this conference, everyone beats each other up and there isn’t one dominant team,” Malpass said.
To have a shot though, the Scots will need to get points on the board, and fast. They will face an 8-7 Lumberton team (1-1 SEC) that primarily runs a 2-3 zone defense. That’s something the Scots have not seen a lot of this season.
“The challenge to us for zone is we haven’t seen a lot of it. We’ve only faced it twice all year,” Malpass said. “I feel like we’re in a pretty good rhythm playing man-to-man because we’ve gotten so many reps in it.”
To counter the zone the Scots will likely have to attempt a lot of three-point shots. Junior guard Travis Miles leads the team in threes made, with 20. He has shot 37 percent from behind the arc. Jordan Ratliffe is also a threat for the deep shot as he has made 10-of-42, or 24 percent, of his three-point shots.
“We’ve got to hit the outside shot to make the defense adjust to you. But at the same time don’t make it the only attack mechanism. The tough thing about zone is it can make teams settle for shots,” Malpass said.
The Scots will start a small lineup early on and put pressure on Lumberton. The rest of the game plan will vary depending on how the Pirates react to the pressure, but Malpass said he will probably utilize a traditional lineup to attack the zone with post players as well as shooters.
The zone defense usually does not put a lot of pressure on the ball handlers, so the open three-point shots will be there, Malpass said — it’s just a matter of hitting them and having a balanced approach.
The girls game begins at 6:30 p.m. and the boys play after.