ORANGEBURG, S.C. — Last season, the Scotland girls basketball team ended 2014 with three straight losses in the Carolina Invitational tournament hosted in Charleston, South Carolina.
The trio of defeats sank the Scots’ record to 5-8 as the calender flipped to 2015, and Janie Hodges’ program was forced to reevaluate itself heading into Southeastern Conference play. Eleven straight wins and a fourth consecutive SEC regular-season championship later, Scotland’s non-conference woes were long forgotten by season’s end.
Hodges and her squad hopes history repeats itself as they take the court this weekend for Scotland’s final non-conference games before the SEC schedule commences the first week of January. The Scots will once again travel to South Carolina this holiday season, but this time they will lace up in Orangeburg for the Orangeburg County Sweet 16 tournament.
The tourney, which is slated to host 32 teams (16 boys and 16 girls) begins today and will take place at five different venues over a four-day stretch. First- and second-round action will tip off at Orangeburg Prep, Calhoun County, Edisto and Bethune-Bowman high schools, while the final two days of championship games will be played at Orangeburg-Wilkinson High.
Scotland (3-5) is scheduled to play River Bluff (S.C.) at 4 p.m. in the opening contest at Calhoun County High. The Scots dropped their first four games of the season but have rebounded to win three of their last four. The last time Scotland saw the floor on Dec. 17, it defeated rival Marlboro County (S.C.) 53-35 in Bennettsville.
Junior point guard ShanQaylia Stanton leads the team in points, assists and steals, but has also committed the most turnovers. The two-time all-SEC performer is averaging 11.7 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 3.9 steals to go along with 4.9 turnovers per contest.
Senior guard Ashlyn Dial is second on the team in points per game (9.7) and has also posted averages of 2.1 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 3 steals.
Center Khasiya Sellers controls the paint for the Scots with averages of 7.3 points and 8.4 rebounds per outing. The junior is especially effective at earning Scotland second-chance opportunities, snagging 3.9 offensive rebounds each game.
River Bluff, the Scotland’s first round foe, hails from Lexington, South Carolina and is coached by Megan Assey. The Gators wield a 6-4 record and are paced by two dynamic scorers. Daysia Grady leads the team in scoring (17.4 points) and steals (3.7), and Ryan Scott is second on the squad in scoring (16 points) and first in assists (2.4)
Logan Martinez can be reached at 910-506-3170. Follow him on Twitter @L_Martinez13.