LAURINBURG — Scotland senior guard Willie Douglas entered Friday night’s contest against Pinecrest shooting 7-for-46 from behind the 3-point line this season.
The 6-foot-5 guard, who connected on 34 percent of his 3-point attempts as a junior, shot less than half of that percentage through Scotland’s first 13 games.
After the Scots survived to defeat the previously once-beaten Patriots 69-67 in overtime, that number is going to get a big bump. Douglas scored a season-high 25 points and drilled six 3-pointers, including a key trey in the extra session, to help Scotland avenge a loss to Pinecrest from two weeks ago.
“We have two shooting machines and Willie’s been spending some time on those,” said Scotland coach Matt Justin. “Yesterday was the first day when he got on it and he was making six, seven, eight in a row and he said, ‘It’s coming back.’ It’s the first time I’ve seen him start to stroke it. I think he was confident coming into tonight once he hit a couple.”
But it was sophomore guard Niem Ratliffe who hit the go-ahead shot for Scotland (7-7, 2-0 in the SEC) — he sank a running floater with 16.9 seconds left while drawing a foul to put the Scots on top 68-67, then he recorded a steal on the ensuing Pinecrest possession and drew another foul, where he hit one of two shots from the charity stripe.
Scotland’s defense then clamped down when the Patriots got the ball back, forcing guard Donnie Haith to commit a turnover while driving to basket with two seconds remaining to essentially seal the victory.
Douglas led all scorers with 25 points while Ratliffe added 18 in what was Scotland’s most impressive win of the season. Pinecrest (14-2, 2-1 in the SEC) had only lost once before Friday, a 54-45 defeat to Mount Zion in the championship game of the Holiday in the Pines tournament. The Patriots defeated Scotland 50-41 in the semifinals of that tourney, but the Scots were able to avenge that loss by handing Pinecrest its first conference blemish.
After jumping out to a 29-15 second quarter lead, Scotland saw its advantage dwindle as Pinecrest closed it to 30-25 by halftime.
The Patriots then outscored the Scots by 15 in the third period and led by as many as 12 points in the fourth quarter, but Scotland mounted a comeback of its own as junior Robert Murdock and Douglas scored five points and eight points respectively during the final eight minutes.
Douglas’ steal and ensuing layup tied the game at 59-all with 53 seconds left, then after Pinecrest came up empty on its possession, Scotland had one last chance to win the game in regulation. The Pinecrest defense forced Douglas to fire a deep 3 from the top of the key that bounced off the glass then rolled inside the rim before falling out as the buzzer sounded.
Haith paced the Patriots with 22 points while Brandon Harrell scored 15 points in the losing effort.
“The kids, I give them credit. Even though they started to hang their heads, some things went well for us and they started to battle back,” Justin said. “That was a huge boost for a really young team.”
Logan Martinez can be reached at 910-506-3170. Follow him on Twitter @L_Martinez13.