The only person willing to stop Pine Forest’s Alex Bradley Friday night was Alex Bradley.
The Trojans’ lightning-quick point guard lit up the Scotland High School men’s varsity basketball team for 34 points, countering every one of the Scots’ punches with an answer of his own, handing Scotland a 71-62 loss on Dec. 16
With just a 10-point lead over Scotland heading into the fourth quarter, Bradley scored 13 points in the period to clinch the road victory, dropping Scotland to 2-3 on the year.
Pine Forest went to the free throw line 37 times in the contest, including a staggering 18 times in the fourth quarter, responding to each and every late run the Scots made. Fighting from a 50-35 third-quarter deficit, Scotland cut the Trojans’ lead to single digits heading into the final quarter of play, but Bradley’s late game heroics held off the pesky Scots to give the Trojans their 10th win of the season.
Jauan Petty led Scotland with 20 points and 12 rebounds to secure a double-double, while Artemis Robinson and Tony McRae joined the Scots’ power forward in double figures with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
“It was a much better result than the first time we played them,” Scotland head coach Michael Dease said, “but after the first two minutes, we didn’t have any intensity. We got complacent and thought we were in control. Pine Forest is a great ball team and you have to stay on them. You can’t let up anywhere. We didn’t do what we needed to do tonight.”
Scotland opened the game with a quick 8-5 spurt, rolling out to a three-point lead with 2:23 left to go in the first quarter. Despite their slow start, the Trojans answered Scotland’s early lead with a 14-0 run to end the opening period, as Bradley scored three points, while dishing out a pair of assists, to hand Pine Forest a 19-8 advantage going into the second.
Scotland outscored the Trojans 22-14 in the second quarter, closing the period on an 11-4 run. Robinson scored six points during the Scots’ rally, sending the Scots into halftime down just 33-30.
Three early third-quarter Scotland turnovers led to an 11-0 opening run for the Trojans after the break. Scotland trimmed Pine Forest’s lead back into single digits at 52-43 with 1:56 to go in the quarter, outscoring the Trojans 6-0 while Bradley sat on the bench in foul trouble. With Bradley out, Scotland forced three Pine Forest turnovers, trailing just 53-43 heading into the final period of play.
In the fourth quarter, Pine Forest made their living at the charity stripe, going to the line 18 times in the quarter. The Trojans sank 13 free throws in the period, while Bradley added 13 points in the quarter to clinch the win.
“(Bradley) is scoring machine,” Dease said. “He showed why he’s getting interest from some of the top schools in North Carolina. Our guys couldn’t guard him. He was doing what he wanted to at will. We tried different line-ups and match-ups, but nobody wanted to guard him. We have to change our defensive mindset and be a different team from here on out.”
Dominique Green added six rebounds for the Scots, while McRae and Robinson grabbed four boards apiece.
Scotland finished the contest with 25 turnovers, including 16 in the first half.
The Scots will return to action next week when they make their way to Little River, S.C., for the 2011 Shootout by the Sea Christmas Tournament.
“I want to see us go down there and compete,” Dease said. “Day in and day out, we need to play Scotland basketball. We want to go in, play hard, create havoc on defense, get our hands on a few steals and compete.”
Tournament action will begin on Dec. 21.