LAURINBURG — Perhaps the quickest way for a basketball team to refocus after a tough loss is to get right back on the court the next day to play a new opponent.
For the Scotland girls hoops team, welcoming Hoke County to Laurinburg Tuesday was therapeutic for a squad that saw its four-game win streak snapped by one of the top programs in the state on Monday.
The Scots (10-7, 3-0 in the SEC) never trailed after the first quarter against the visiting Bucks, blowing open a five-point halftime lead in route to a 51-32 victory. The win was Scotland’s 13th straight conference win dating back to last season.
Hoke (7-8, 1-2 in the SEC) briefly held a 7-6 lead early, but Scotland put together an 11-0 run that spanned the first and second quarters to take control of the contest for good.
Janie Hodges’ team was paced by a season-high 13 points from sophomore forward Amaya Pegues, and senior guard Ashlyn Dial tacked on 13 as well. Hodges said Pegues’ improvement, especially at the offensive end of the floor, adds another dimension on the floor.
“She’s been coming into her own, she’s understanding her role,” Hodges said. “She’s taking criticism and pushing herself to the limit so I was definitely proud of her tonight. When she’s active and coherent, good things happen.”
Hoke’s Mahogany Matthews led the Bucks with 11 points.
Hodges said after the win she wasn’t sure how her team would responded after suffering a 63-32 defeat against Millbrook on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, but she was happy to see that her girls responded to the challenge of playing their second game in as many nights.
“They came in ready to play, and I’m thankful for that and I’m just thankful we got the win,” Hodges said.
Hoke did mount an 11-6 run during the final six minutes of the second period to close within 23-18 at the break, but the Scots opened the second half on a 10-3 spurt to increase its advantage to double-digits once more.
While the Bucks were able to find perimeter holes in Scotland’s 2-3 zone defense, they were unable to take advantage of open jump shot opportunities, misfiring on all but one 3-pointer.
The Scots, led by Dial’s five steals, forced the Bucks into multiple turnovers and they were able to capitalize with transition points. Dial added five points in the third quarter to increase the host’s lead to 14 heading into the final period.
Scotland didn’t let up in the fourth quarter as Pegues scored five points and senior forward Bre Williams tacked on four to help the Scots build their advantage to as many as 19 points.
Pegues hauled in seven rebounds, and while junior center Khasiya Sellers didn’t have a prolific scoring night, she grabbed 13 rebounds. Junior point guard ShanQaylia Stanton chipped in nine points and three assists.
Scotland and Lumberton are the only two Southeastern Conference schools to wield a perfect 3-0 conference record — The Pirates downed Richmond Senior 58-38 Tuesday to improve to 13-1 overall.
Scotland will travel to Robeson County Friday to play Lumberton in a battle of first-place teams.
“We look at every game the same and we just want to keep the (conference) winning streak going,” Hodges said in anticipation of the matchup.
Logan Martinez can be reached at 910-506-3170. Follow him on Twitter @L_Martinez13.