LAURINBURG — Coming off a 16-win season a year ago, the Scotland girls basketball team had yet to notch a victory entering Tuesday night’s rivalry tilt against Marlboro County.
The Scots had a rough November, going 0-4 with double-digit losses in every game which included a 60-15 drubbing at the hands of Southeast Raleigh on the road Monday.
The blowout defeat to the defending North Carolina High School Athletic Association 4A runner-up was a new low point in the season for coach Janie Hodges and her girls, but they rebounded to take care of the Bulldogs and get back on the winning track.
Scotland rolled to a 54-36 home victory with the hope that the November woes are behind it as the calendar flips to December.
“It’s a great morale builder to come out on your home floor and get a win, so I’m excited about that,” Hodges said.
The Scots built a 10-4 advantage after the first quarter and led by 14 points at halftime. The lead ballooned to 18 by the end of the third quarter, and though the Bulldogs closed the gap to as few as 13 points in the fourth period, they never threatened to stage a comeback.
Junior point guard ShanQaylia Stanton helped the Scots get off to a fast start, scoring seven points in the first period to give her team the early lead. The two-time all-Southeastern Conference performer hit three 3-pointers in the game after struggling with her shot through the early part of the season, but Hodges said her team still needs to move the ball better and not wait for Stanton to make plays if it wants to become a consistent winner.
“My kids are consistently inconsistent, and it’s hard to beat teams when you don’t run your stuff,” Hodges said. “When she knocks down shots, it gives us a boost but we have to learn how to run our stuff and be patient on the offensive end so good things can happen.”
Stanton added nine more points in the second quarter to finish with 16 at halftime, outpacing the entire Marlboro team which entered the locker room with 12 points.
In the third quarter, Scotland showcased better balance as five different players scored at least two points. Stanton added a 3-pointer while senior forward Breanna Williams and junior center Khasiya Sellers each tacked on a pair of baskets.
Hodges was particularly impressed with Williams, who missed the first home game of the season Nov. 19 due to injury but came back to score 10 points and grab 11 rebounds in Scotland’s second home contest.
“Bre definitely came out and played big for us, we’ve been missing her presence on the floor,” Hodges said. “She’s that stretch forward type of position that can knock down the short corner jumper. Hopefully her play will continue to improve as we continue this long basketball season.”
Down 39-21 entering the fourth quarter, Marlboro closed the gap to 44-31 thanks to a few empty possessions by the Scotland offense. Hodges called a timeout to settle her girls down, and they responded by going on a 10-5 run to close out the game.
Stanton paced both teams with 21 points and she added five rebounds and four assists. Sellers tallied nine points.
Scotland improved to 1-4 this season and will look to start a winning streak when it travels to play E.E. Smith Thursday. The Golden Bulls cruised to a 57-32 win over the Scots in the season opener.
Logan Martinez can be reached at 910-506-3170. Follow him on Twitter @L_Martinez13.