The Scotland varsity basketball lady Scots have been on an offensive tear the past two games, scoring a combined 160 points in victories over both Hoke County and Terry Sanford.
58 of those points have come in the third quarter alone. And after Scotland’s 74-44 rout over the Terry Sanford lady Bulldogs Tuesday night, head coach David Johnson said that his team’s recent second half success falls right in line with one of the team’s core game strategies.
“It’s all about halftime speeches and giving this team reminders about what we need to do out on the court,” Johnson said. “We preach intensity, but we also talk about the importance of starting fast in the first four minutes of every quarter. You can put a team away in the first four minutes, and we’ve done that pretty much the entire season.”
The advantage that Terry Sanford possessed over the lady Scots became immediately apparent upon first glance: The lady Bulldogs were simply a bigger team. This was best evidenced by the interior presence of lady Bulldogs’ 6’3” freshman center Ora Udoh, who led all scorers on the night with 21 points on 10-of-11 shooting, with all of those coming inside the paint.
With Scots’ power forward Jonissa Monley still out with a broken foot, Scotland has been dealing with a size disadvantage since the winter break.
But while they’ve lacked in size, they have more than compensated with unselfish play and on-the-ball defensive quickness.
Tuesday night against Terry Sanford, the lady Scots handed out a combined 22 assists, with 11 of those coming from senior point guard Ariel Ratcliff who also added 12 points and six steals. Ratcliff currently leads the Southeastern 4-A conference in steals as well.
“We stress good ball movement and creating the best shots we possibly can for each other,” Johnson said. “This team has to make sure that they do whatever it takes to get that wide open shot, and all season long we’ve bought into that philosophy.”
While Scotland appeared to be a well-oiled machine right from the get-go, Terry Sanford didn’t allow the game to spiral out of control in the first half. A pair of buckets in the final 30 seconds of the second quarter from Udoh and Shaniqua Bowman cut into Scotland’s double-digit lead and made the score 25-17 in favor of the lady Scots at halftime.
But then the third quarter came.
The lady Scots went 12-for-17 once they emerged from halftime, and the fast start they were looking for came courtesy of two layups from Ratcliff, resulting from steals on back-to-back Terry Sanford possessions. Scotland senior guard Tykeria Johnson was on absolute fire in the quarter as well, scoring 13 of her team-high 19 points in the first eight minutes of the half, with all 19 of her points coming in the third and fourth quarters as well.
The third quarter was also a veritable block party for the lady Scots, with the team notching five different swats on the whole. In addition to nine points, seven rebounds and four assists, Scotland center Destiny Campbell added to her complete game by recording six blocks on the night.
Filling in for Monley has been forward Quintavia Deberry, who has scored 44 points over the past two games as well. After collecting a season-high 30 points against the lady Bucks, Deberry added 14 more (and seven rebounds) against Terry Sanford on Tuesday.
By the time the third quarter buzzer sounded, Scotland had outscored Terry Sanford 28-9 to open a 27-point lead over the lady Bulldogs. And it was game over from there.
With the win, Scotland improves to 11-2 on the year.
The lady Scots will next take the court against conference-foe Pinecrest Thursday Jan. 24 in Southern Pines before hosting Lumberton at home on Friday. Both Game times are scheduled for 6 p.m.