Perhaps it’s fortunate that the varsity basketball Fighting Scots undergo their growing pains early on in the season, before things begin to heat up in 2013.
Coach Jackie Amos preached about the importance of starting a game off strong in the opening minutes, and Scotland appeared to take his words to heart in a promising first quarter.
However, things would fall apart for Scotland as the game pressed on, and a stagnant offensive performance at the tail end of the third quarter combined with an abundance of turnovers (26 in all) would prove the difference maker in the Scots’ 64-43 loss to Southern Lee.
Scotland begins its non-conference schedule with an 0-2 record.
“Chemistry is the key word for our problems right now,” Amos said. “We have zero chemistry on either end of the court, and we’re simply not being patient on offense or executing at all in general.”
In what was a recurring theme for Cavaliers Wednesday night, the front-court tandem of Justin McKinnon and Juwan Jackson would set the tone inside the paint in the early goings. Both players combined for 31 points of their team’s 64 points on the night and dominated the glass for Southern Lee as well.
But Scotland kept pace with Southern Lee in the first quarter, as their offense was sparked by Tra’Shawn Gregory after the senior point-forward scooped a rebound off his own missed shot and finished with an easy lay-in to give the Scots their first basket of the game. Gregory finished the game with a team-high 13 points for Scotland.
The Scots closed the first quarter with a three-pointer from point guard Trejon Monley to help the team pull to within three points of Southern Lee when the buzzer sounded. The second quarter began with Scotland down 18-15.
“I was happy with our effort early on, but a game takes 32 minutes to play,” Amos said. “We’re going to have to sustain our mental and physical energy the entire game to have a shot.”
However, while the Cavaliers scored the vast majority of their points in post against Scotland, their outside shooting did appear just enough to help Southern Lee maintain a decent cushion over the Scots. The second quarter opened with a series of successful attempts from beyond the arc for the Cavs that gave Southern Lee a double-digit lead over Scotland.
When the first half buzzer sounded, Southern Lee had built a 37-25 lead over the Scots. And while Scotland’s defensive effort had kept them in the game up until this point, the second half saw the Scots suffer through a crippling scoreless drought that began at the 4:30 mark in the third quarter and continue until the early minutes of the fourth.
During that stretch, the Scots failed to record a single point, with their last basket coming on a Gregory steal and two-handed dunk which was arguably the highlight of Scotland’s final 16 minutes of play.
“We burn up a lot of wasted energy out there,” Amos said. “There’s a lot of movement on our offense, but we have no hard movement at the basket or ability to get the rest of our team involved. If there’s no purpose to our movement, then it’s just a lot of running around out there, which is what I saw from our guys tonight.”