LUMBERTON — Over halfway through the Southeastern Conference schedule, the two heavyweights on the girls side still see room for improvement after facing each other on Wednesday night.
Lumberton was able to get out and running in transition to overcome its mistakes to capture a 59-52 win over Scotland at home, and take first place in the SEC after both teams came in undefeated in conference play.
“I thought we made a lot of foolish turnovers,” Lumberton coach Danny Graham said. “It’s just one more game. We’ve got a whole other round to go.”
“We’re going to continue to take things a game at a time and understand that on any given night anybody can be beat,” Scotland coach Janie Hodges said. “We’re No. 2 right now, but a lot of things can happen during that time.”
After Lumberton (15-1, 5-0 SEC) took a nine-point lead with 4:15 left in the game, Scotland charged back behind the scoring of ShanQaylia Stanton and Khasiya Sellers to cut the Lady Pirates’ lead to 55-52.
Over the final two minutes, Scotland (11-8, 4-1 SEC) was able to get stops and force turnovers to keep the margin close, but shots weren’t falling and the Lady Scots turned the ball over in bad spots.
“It showed heart, but you can’t fight so hard that you give it up at the end and I feel like that’s what we did,” Hodges said of her team’s fight at the end. “We were in the game, we just couldn’t finish.”
Lumberton missed nine free throws in the fourth quarter, but Mariah Locklear and London Thompson hit three in the final possessions to seal the win.
“What I liked about our team is that they cut it to three and we were able to pull it out,” Graham said. “That show maturity.”
Sellers scored the first nine points for the Lady Scots to help her team keep pace with Lumberton before other scoring options heated up from the floor. Stanton shook off the cold start to finish with 17 points and six rebounds while Sellers finished with a double-double of 16 points and 14 rebounds.
“We fed off of her (Sellers) energy and it kept them through the game,” Hodges said. “However, I think we went away from what was working later as the game went on.”
Thompson and Locklear helped the Lady Pirates in transition in the second quarter to close the first half strong. Lumberton saw its 21-14 lead at the beginning of the second melt down to 21-20 with less than five minutes left until halftime. The Lady Pirates were then able to get out in the open floor to take a 34-24 lead in the closing seconds of the quarter.
“I thought we could outrun them with our guards and we did that tonight,” Graham said. “That’s what we try to preach all the time is to get out and running more.”
“I think we missed a whole lot of easy baskets, we got beat in transitions and we got outrebounded. Those are things we work on daily in practice,” Hodges said.
Thompson finished with a game-high 20 points and Locklear added 13.
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977. Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.