Free throws help Scots keep lead
Corbin Ensminger email@example.com
LAURINBURG — Travis Miles made five of six free throw attempts in the final minute of the game to help Scotland hold off Purnell Swett for a 64-59 win Monday night.
Miles, who finished as Scotland’s leading scorer with 20 points, made three separate trips to the free throw line at the end of regulation. His points kept the Rams at bay for just long enough. The final minute of the game was drawn out longer as both coaches had saved up several timeouts.
The Rams would send Miles to the line, then make a bucket to draw within three or four points, before fouling Miles and starting the sequence again. Scotland coach Michael Malpass said Miles tends to be the calmest player under pressure, so he wanted to give him the ball if it was possible.
“We wanted the ball in his hands. Every in-bound play where we knew we were going to be fouled we designed for him,” Malpass said.
Scotland improves to 6-11 overall and 5-3 in the conference, while Swett is now 3-14 and 1-7. Despite the win, Malpass was not happy with the way his team played for most of the game.
“The process we’re in is maturity. And we show our immaturity in stretches sometimes when we’re learning how to win. And I thought tonight was a sign of our immaturity in that we’ve had a lot of success recently and I don’t know that they handled that very well,” Malpass said.
The Scots have won four out of their last five games. The only loss came to Hoke County on Friday. The three-game winning streak that came before the loss to the Bucks eclipsed the win-mark of the entire season to that point. Malpass said the team is still learning how to win and being comfortable with being in contention.
Malpass said the defensive performance was one reason why the Rams were able to battle their way back into the game after the Scots had opened up a 10-point lead at halftime.
“I thought defensively was extremely bad. Our effort, rotation and focus was really bad,” Malpass said. “We’re good enough athletically to be a great defensive team and not be put into these situations. Now I thought Purnell Swett’s coach did a great job and definitely had them fired up. Kudos to him.”
Malpass said the win can be a moment for the team to learn how quickly a lead, and success, can disappear.
“Hopefully what this does is they look back at success and see how easily you can lose that. That’s our job now, to help them understand how serious it is to play really hard all the time, because tonight I felt like we didn’t play hard a lot of the time,” Malpass said.
Jordan Ratliffe added 14 points for Scotland, while Jaylend Ratliffe and Jeremias Easterling each scored 10. Easterling came up with a huge rebound with 15 seconds left when the game was 60-59. He passed the ball out to Miles after fighting off two Swett players for it, sending Miles to the free throw line once more.
The Scots will be back in action on Friday when they travel to Richmond. Tonight’s game against Lumberton has been rescheduled to Saturday because of the weather threat. The girls game will begin at 4 p.m. on Saturday and the boys will play afterwards.
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