For a team like the varsity lady Scots, sometimes all it takes is one game to get a state championship hopeful back on track.
Without leading scorer Jonissa Monley in the starting lineup, the lady Scots have gone 1-2 in their past three games. But on Friday night, they welcomed a Purnell Swett squad that has yet to win a game this season, and the result was an emphatic Scotland 78-22 blowout that coach David Johnson believes will give his team a confidence boost heading into the first leg of the conference schedule.
” I challenged them before this game that no matter if you’re our number one or number nine player, you have to compete,” Johnson said. “Our entire team put forth a good effort tonight, and I saw a different bounce in their step from the first to the fourth quarter.”
The lady Scots’ last game against Laney High School out of Wilmington, N.C. saw Scotland post just 31 points, their lowest output of the season.
Against the lady Rams Friday night, they eclipsed that total with plenty of time to spare in the second quarter.
Starting in similar fashion to the routs that punctuated the early start to their season, Scotland hit the ground running with a first quarter that showcased their dominance on both ends of the court.
Scotland point guard Ariel Ratcliff and sophomore center Destiny Campbell had six points apiece in the opening minutes as the lady Scots’ capitalized on easy-transition baskets coming off of turnovers. Meanwhile, Purnell Swett appeared helpless from the onset against Scotland’s man defense, going scoreless for long stretches of time including finishing without a basket in the final five minutes of the first quarter.
The first quarter ended with Scotland leading Purnell Swett by a score of 17-4. And things only went from bad to worse for the lady Rams from there.
The second quarter saw Purnell Swett just score a single basket on a 1-for-12 shooting performance while the lady Scots continued to impose their will. By the time Ratcliff fired a no-look pass to an awaiting Campbell for the easy layup in the closing seconds, Scotland found themselves up 41-7 at halftime.
“The way we played in that first half is what we’ve grown accustomed to doing,” Johnson said. “We were intense, focused and got up and down the court with authority.”
After suffering a minor ankle injury Jan. 8 against Laney, Ratcliff appeared to be 100 percent against Purnell Swett, utilizing her quickness and ability to run the fast-break to produce six steals and eight assists (both game-highs) to go along with her 14 points.
And though the team has sorely missed the size that Monley and power forward Tuesday McLaurin have provided-McLaurin is currently nursing a back injury- Campbell was a force in the paint for Scotland Friday night, notching a double-double (15 points and 10 rebounds) while also adding six blocks to her impressive showing.
Scotland shooting guard Tykeria Johnson led all scorers on the night with 18 points, with 10 of those coming in the third quarter as the streaky shooter caught fire and further propelled the lady Scots ahead of Purnell Swett.
The win improves Scotland’s record to 9-2 on the season. And more importantly for coach Johnson, it gets his team off to a rock-solid start on the way to defending the Southeastern Conference 4-A championship crown.
“Conference is play is always tough, it doesn’t matter who you play,” Johnson said. “That’s why it was important for us to start off on the right foot. We definitely accomplished our goal tonight.”