LAURINBURG —Scotland girls basketball coach Janie Hodges said her team plays better when playing from behind, and for much of Tuesday night’s game against Lumberton it did just that.
In the end, the Lady Scots weathered one final storm from Lumberton to break away with a 61-58 win at home to pull them in a tie atop the Southeastern Conference standings with one game left in the regular season.
“We’re used to a team coming out and being on top and us fighting back,” Hodges said. “Putting us in that position, it makes us want it more.”
After Lumberton girls (20-2, 8-1 SEC) took a six-point lead with 5:53 left in the game, the Scotland defense tightened down and the frontcourt came up with timely baskets to take the lead, 59-57, with 1:38 left on a Breanna Williams jumper in the lane.
“We got stops when we needed to get stops so I’m just proud of my kids,” Hodges said.
Over the final three minutes of the game, the Lady Pirates did not hit a shot from the floor while Williams and Khasiya Sellers scored the final six for Scotland (15-8, 8-1 SEC) to close out the game.
“Late in the game, they executed better than we did,” Lumberton coach Danny Graham said. “They did the little things well. They got the big rebounds and made the big free throws.”
Each time Lumberton build a lead in the second and third quarters, Scotland fought back to cut the score to a one-possession game at the end of each frame. In the second, Lumberton went up five before ShanQaylia Stanton brought the Lady Scots back to 29-27 at the half. Lumberton built an eight-point lead midway through the third before Stanton and Ashlyn Dial cut it to a 43-41 lead going into the fourth.
“It shows, growth, heart and determination,” Hodges said. “Lumberton did what they normally do, they take the punch and this time we decided to fight back a little bit more.”
Stanton finished with a game-high 21 points and Dial added 14.
“Those are our two go-to guards and they just played basketball,” Hodges said of Stanton and Dial. “They played basketball within the set, they were aggressive and didn’t get frustrated.
Lumberton got off to a slow start, going down 6-0 in the first three minutes of the game before mounting a 13-2 run to take a 13-10 lead after one quarter.
“We didn’t rebound and we didn’t do the little things well,” Graham said. “We didn’t make free throws and didn’t make layups and that was the difference in the game.”
The Lady Pirates went 13-for-26 at the charity stripe.
“That was the difference in the game for us, our inability to make the easy play like free throws and layups,” Graham said.
London Thompson and Kiara Page had 15 apiece for the Lady Pirates.
If both teams are tied in first after Friday’s games, a coin flip will decide who has the No. 1 seed for the state playoffs. Lumberton host Purnell Swett and Scotland travels to Richmond on Friday night in the regular season finale.
“It’s real important for us,” Graham said of getting the top seed.
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977. Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.