If a conference-championship repeat and deep playoff run is indeed in the cards for the varsity basketball lady Scots this season, then starting the season out strong was undoubtedly the first step.
And in their debut Tuesday night against non-conference opponent Whiteville Tuesday night, Scotland did exactly that. From stout defense to easy transition baskets, the lady Scots appeared focused and ready for the season at-hand, besting Whiteville 59-30 in a game that highlighted Scotland as force to be reckoned with in 2012-13.
“I was pleased with the energy my team displayed the entire night,” said coach David Johnson after the game. “When you get off to a fast start like we did, it’s good for the overall attitude of the team. We played relaxed and it was the type of game that makes for a better practice when all of our players know they did their jobs out there.”
The lady Scots made it apparent right from the very beginning that they were too much for Whiteville to handle on both ends of the court.
Scotland’s Jonissa Monley continued to demonstrate the post skills and nose for the basket that won her conference player of the year honors for 2011-12, scoring eight of her 14 first-half points in the opening minutes of the first quarter.
Offensively, the lady Scots logged such a dominant performance that it allowed Johnson to rest his starters and give ample time for the bench to log minutes that the fifth-year coach believes will prove valuable in conference play.
“I want to have depth this year, because it will be crucial for down the stretch and what we want to accomplish defensively,” Johnson said. The lady Scots had seven different players notch a basket in the season-opening win.
“We have to have fresh bodies out there at all times, mix it up and give our opponents different looks as much as possible,” he said.
Meanwhile, it was lady Scots’ floor-general Ariel Ratcliff that provided much of the heavy lifting, setting the defensive tone from the onset by notching all of her game-high three blocks in the first quarter as well.
Whiteville was pressured into bad shots throughout the game and appeared overwhelmed by Scotland’s man defense, as they were held scoreless in the first quarter on 0-6 shooting. The lady Wolfpack’s first basket didn’t come until the 5:40 mark in the second quarter on a contested three-pointer from LaDavius McMillan.
In the first half of regulation, the lady Wolfpack finished with just six points (three of those coming on free throws) and a 9% field goal percentage. The half ended with Scotland up 28-6 over Whiteville.
Monley and Ratcliff each finished with double-doubles in the game, with Monley notching 18 points and 10 rebounds (both game highs), while Ratcliffe added 10 steals and six assists to her 10 points.
Also impressive on the night was Tykera Johnson, who collected 15 points on just under 50% shooting, including a pair of three-pointers down the stretch that helped Scotland close out Whiteville.
However, the lady Wolfpack didn’t allow the lopsided nature of the game to affect their overall effort, as Whiteville finally found some semblance of offensive rhythm in the fourth quarter. The lady Wolfpack opened the final quarter on a 14-4 run, led by LaDavius McMillan (who finished with a team-high 10 points) and 6’3” center Didra Jordan who was a consistent force in the paint throughout the game.
But the lady Scots remained consistent on offense despite the occasional lapse, and the result was a game that remained far out of reach for Whiteville from the opening buzzer.
The lady Scots will host Southern Lee Wednesday night at 6 p.m. in the second game in as many nights.