LAURINBURG — Tonight will mark one week since the Scotland boys and girls basketball teams last took the floor for a game.
The Scots return to the hardwood this evening to battle Pinecrest, and both squads will look to continue hot streaks that began in the weeks leading up to the short break they have enjoyed since last Friday.
Scotland girls seek 4th straight win
Scotland enters tonight’s tilt against Pinecrest riding a three-game winning streak, and Janie Hodges’ program has won six of its past seven contests.
The Scots (8-6, 1-0 in the SEC) are a little more than two weeks removed from a third-place finish at the Orangeburg County Sweet 16 tournament in South Carolina, and they cruised to a 58-37 victory at Purnell Swett in their Southeastern Conference opener last Friday.
Junior center Khasiya Sellers is coming off a 17-point, 19-rebound performance against the Rams, and she has grabbed 14 or more boards in three of her past five outings to raise her season rebounding average to 10.1. She is second on the team in scoring (10.5 points) and leads the Scots in blocks (1.5) after swatting five shots against Purnell Swett.
Sophomore Amaya Pegues has picked up her play since the new year, averaging 7.7 points, six rebounds and three steals since the calender flipped to 2016. Pegues surpassed seven or more points just three times in Scotland’s previous 11 games.
Junior point guard ShanQaylia Stanton continues to pace her squad in scoring (12.7 points), assists (4.1) and steals (3.3) while senior Ashlyn Dial is on the cusp of a double-figure scoring average (9.9 points) and is second in assists (2.6) and steals (2.8).
Scotland will welcome a Pinecrest club to Laurinburg that is 7-5 overall on the year and 1-1 against SEC competition. The Patriots were crushed by Lumberton in their conference opener last Friday, losing 72-43, but they responded to rout Purnell Swett 50-16 on Saturday.
Scotland boys aim to avenge loss
Tonight’s clash between Scotland and Pinecrest is the second of three meetings between the two programs this season. This time, the result will have a direct impact on the conference race.
The Scots (6-7, 0-1 in the SEC) and Patriots last met Dec. 29 in the semifinals of the Holiday in the Pines tournament, a battle that Pinecrest won 50-41 on its home floor. While that win helped the Patriots (14-1, 2-0 in the SEC) secure a spot in the tourney championship game, it did not count as a conference victory.
Brandon Harrell led all scorers with 20 points in the win, and Will Lassiter chipped in 11 for the Patriots. Sophomore Justin McRae was the only Scot to crack double digits, tallying 15 points on 5-for-13 shooting.
That defeat is the only loss Scotland has suffered in the past month — Matt Justin’s squad has reeled off four wins in five games since starting the season 2-6. The Scots were victorious in their last outing a week ago, defeating Purnell Swett 72-66 in Pembroke.
Sophomore guard Niem Ratliffe has scorched the nets since the loss to Pinecrest, averaging 28 points and hitting more than 5 3-pointers per game in Scotland’s last three contests.
While Ratliffe and McRae have provided consistent scoring, Scotland’s depth has perhaps been its greatest asset during its recent win streak. Unsung heroes like juniors Donte Green, Robert Murdock and Alexander Farmer have played quality minutes manning the paint for a Scotland team that doesn’t feature anyone taller than 6-foot-5.
Pinecrest quickly jumped out to a 2-0 start in the SEC last week, squeaking out a 60-56 win at Lumberton Friday before returning home Saturday to trounce Purnell Swett 75-36.
Logan Martinez can be reached at 910-506-3170. Follow him on Twitter @L_Martinez13.