The flashes of potential that the varsity basketball Scots showed at times against Whiteville Tuesday night were perhaps best demonstrated by Scotland point-forward Tra’Shawn Gregory in the fourth quarter.
After a mid-range jumper from Maurice McInnis rimmed out, Gregory caught the rebound and finished with a rim-rattling dunk that proved an exciting moment for the Scotland fans in attendance. A few seconds later in the quarter, Gregory would swipe an attempted Whiteville pass and deliver a no-look dish to an awaiting Darius Jones for an easy layup that helped pull Scotland back to within striking distance.
However, for a team that hasn’t played a scrimmage game since Nov. 16, the moments of excitement were few and far between as the Scots struggled to find their identity on both ends of the court. The result was a disappointing 51-35 loss to Whiteville that was characterized by sluggish offensive performances logged by both teams.
“We had a decent little run in the third and fourth quarter where we made smart passes, solid shots and applied defensive pressure to the other team,” said Scotland coach Jackie Amos. “But when you make mistakes and allow yourself to get down big in a game, you have to work extremely hard to get back into it. That’s a lot to ask of an inexperienced team like us.”
The Wolfpack gave Scotland ample opportunities to build some home-court momentum in the early goings, as Whiteville only managed eight points on 1-for-10 shooting in the first quarter. Five of the Wolfpack’s eight first-quarter points came from free throws, as their sole basket came at with 2:30 left to play in the opening quarter on a shot from beyond the arc courtesy of Whiteville guard Carlos Smith.
But the Scotland fouls and turnovers began to pile up in abundance in a quarter that was every bit as sloppy for the Scots, as Gregory collected two quick fouls and didn’t return to the game until the second quarter.
On the night, the Scots committed 32 turnovers.
Even with their many miscues, the Scots managed to keep Whiteville’s lead to just single digits throughout the first half as the team was sparked by the aggressive post play of Aly Kaba in the second quarter. Kaba finished the game with seven points, while teammates Jones and Maseo Graham each logged impressive outings in the paint with five and seven rebounds, respectively.
Points were at a premium in the game between the Scots and Wolfpack, as both teams managed a combined 29% shooting percentage throughout the first three quarters. Heading into the deciding quarter, Scotland found themselves down just 30-20.
But in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter, a pair of three-point plays from Whiteville’s Javon Bellamy and Robert Smith (who led all scorers with 23 points on the night) preceded the Wolfpack’s best offensive run of the game, which saw the team break the game wide open with a 14-2 run that saw Scotland allow Whiteville to build a 20+ point cushion.
The lead would prove insurmountable for Scotland, who never quite capitalized on the mistakes and inconsistent shooting that Whiteville committed.
“They made mistakes, but we made plenty of our own too,” Amos said. “We have to learn from them, and most importantly our kids have to learn to play hard early in games so we don’t dig ourselves in too deep a hole.”
Scotland will tip off against Southern Lee at home Wednesday night following the lady Scots’ varsity game which begins at 6 p.m.