The JV Scots were in firm control for much of the night against rival Richmond and appeared to be going through the motions as the minutes ticked away in the third quarter.
They had opened a 12-point lead over the Raiders, and their 10th win looked to be all but a virtual lock.
That is, until Richmond woke up.
An 8-0 run by the Raiders closed a third quarter that saw Richmond suffer through a five-minute scoring draught at one point, and their sudden offensive awakening continued into the fourth. While Scotland again built a double-digit lead with half a quarter left to play, the Raiders never quite went away, and after several miscues at the most critical point of the game, the Scots stood stunned as Richmond celebrated on the SHS home court.
When the final buzzer sounded, Scotland had lost 57-55 to the Raiders, giving them just their second defeat this season.
“We were up over them and they had to play to us for most of the game,” said Scotland coach Megil McLean after his team’s loss. “And down the stretch this team tried to do too much instead of going for easy baskets and working the ball around on offense. We got edgy and took way too many unnecessary shots.”
The game began by Scotland and Richmond exchanging 7-0 runs, but the Scots quickly began to build a lead that they would sustain for much of the contest. After starting his night going 0-3 from the field, Scotland guard Jordan Ratliffe bounced back with an acrobatic layup that he converted into a three-point play after being fouled. The first quarter ended with Scotland up 13-9 over Richmond.
The Scots demonstrated the deep roster that has propelled them to the top of the Southeastern Conference standings in the second quarter, evidenced by guard Quadrin Williams who led his team with five quarter-points off the bench as he helped orchestrate his team’s offense.
Richmond, meanwhile, appeared flustered by Scotland’s half-court defense, shooting under 40% in what would become a recurring theme for the Raiders throughout the course of the night. The Scots entered halftime with a seven-point lead over Richmond.
That lead would only grow as a basket inside the first minute from Richmond’s Lavell Ellerbe would be the only points the Raiders would score for a brutal five-minute stretch. Scotland didn’t fare much better offensively (converting 4-14 attempted baskets), but nonetheless maintained the advantage over Richmond.
But then Richmond forward T.J. Watkins caught fire in the waning minutes of the quarter, scoring all seven of his third-quarter points in the final three minutes to cut Scotland’s lead to 40-37 heading into the fourth quarter. Watkins would also add another three-pointer at the onset of the quarter to tie the game before his team endured yet another cold shooting stretch.
However, Watkins was not done yet.
After Scotland watched their 10-point fourth quarter lead dwindle to two-points with under a minute remaining, Watkins found himself open at the top of the key and made the most of his opportunity. His three-point shot attempt proved successful, and Richmond regained a lead they wouldn’t relinquish with under 30 seconds left in the game.
Scotland center Jeremias Easterling led his team in scoring Tuesday night with 15 points on 7-of-11 shooting, while Ratliffe added 11 points. With the loss, Scotland falls to 9-2 on the season.
The JV girls and boys’ squads will next be in action at home Friday Feb. 1 against Purnell Swett. Game time is set for 5 p.m.