LAURINBURG — Regardless of how a win looks, it counts the same in the standings.
For the Scotland girls basketball team, its play against Pinecrest Friday night was no work of art, but Janie Hodges’ squad got the result it wanted.
The Scots (9-6, 2-0 in the SEC) were able to overcome several misses at the free-throw line and held off a late rally from the Patriots to score a 46-43 home victory. The win was the Scots’ second in Southeastern Conference play and their 12th conference victory in a row dating back to last season.
Scotland led for much of the contest and held a nine-point lead during the waning moments, but Pinecrest (7-6, 1-2 in the SEC) made it interesting at the end due to the Scots’ inability to knock down their shots from the charity stripe.
Scotland shot less than 50 percent from the line for the game, and after a pair of misses from junior point guard ShanQaylia Stanton with four seconds remaining, the Patriots were able to get off one last attempt to try to send the contest into overtime. But LaBrittia McCain’s shot from half court sailed over the backboard and clanged off the bars supporting the basket, ending the Patriots’ comeback bid.
“A win is a win and I’m excited that we’re 2-0 in the conference, but it was an ugly win,” Hodges said. “We had the opportunity to knock down free throws but when you’re 7-for-21, that’s a problem. We went away from what was working, we just stopped giving the ball to our bigs and there was careless turnover after careless turnover.”
The Scots received big contributions from its frontline players, Khasiya Sellers and Breanna Williams. Sellers, a junior center, scored a game-high 18 points and hauled in 19 rebounds to go along with six blocks. Williams, a senior forward who entered the contest only averaging 2.6 points and 6.4 rebounds per outing, recorded a double-double with 11 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks.
“I think Bre Williams played a great game, she’s been struggling to find her shot the last couple of games, so just to see her keep shooting whether they went down or not shows growth and I’m proud of her,” Hodges said. “She’s always been the person that does a lot of stuff that doesn’t show up in the stats, so I’m glad she was strong on the stat sheet with a double-double.”
The first quarter saw it end with both clubs tied at 8-all as they struggled to find an offensive flow. Turnovers and errant shots plagued each side, but things opened up a bit more for the Scots in the second period as Sellers and Williams found an offensive rhythm. Sellers scored eight points in the period while Williams added six as Scotland took a 24-20 lead into halftime.
The Scots built their advantage to six points entering the fourth quarter, then Williams hit a key 3-pointer from the corner to extend it to nine. Senior guard Ashlyn Dial sank a jumpshot to make 42-33 with less than four minutes remaining, but Scotland only managed one field goal the rest of the way as Pinecrest chipped into its deficit.
Nursing a 45-40 lead with one minute left, Sellers came up with back-to-back clutch offensive rebounds after missed free throws from sophomore Amaya Pegues. While Scotland was unable to convert at the line to widen its cushion, those boards did help the Scots run more time off the clock in an effort to preserve the victory.
L’Aisa Jackson, who scored six points in the fourth quarter to keep the Patriots within striking distance, finished with a team-high 13 points while Tamaya Leak added nine.
“I told my girls yesterday we have to come out and get a win whether that’s by one or 15,” Hodges said. “They did come out and get a win, I just wanted it to be prettier.”
Logan Martinez can be reached at 910-506-3170. Follow him on Twitter @L_Martinez13.