The varsity basketball Fighting Scots appeared to awaken from a deep slumber in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter against the Purnell Swett Rams. Scotland guard/forwards Artemis Robinson and Tra’Shawn Gregory each hit three-pointers to help the Scots climb within a single-digit deficit for the first time since the start of the second quarter.
But then a dagger came from the hands of Purnell Swett senior point guard and team co-captain Larry Watson, who sank a shot from beyond the arc with 5:30 remaining in the game to put the Rams back up 12 over the Scots.
For the fits and spurts that Scotland’s offense produced Friday night, the Rams seemingly had a answer waiting shortly thereafter. And when it was all said and done, Scotland remained without a win as the Fighting Scots fell to the Rams 67-52.
“Our biggest problem is the tendency to get down early in ball games,” said Scotland coach Jackie Amos after the game. “If you get down early, you have to fight too hard to get back into it. This team doesn’t have the ability to make a big comeback if we let the game slip too far away.”
Though they never possessed a lead over Purnell Swett throughout the entirety of the game, Scotland nonetheless kept things within reach in the first quarter. Senior center Aly Kaba provided consistent interior toughness for the Scots, nabbing several offensive rebounds and scoring four of Scotland’s nine first-quarter points on second-chance baskets.
However, inconsistency was the prevailing theme for the Scots all night, as the team shot just over 35% from the field. At one point, the Scots went nearly six minutes without logging a single point, which occurred in the second quarter after Robinson blew past three defenders for a reverse layup to start the quarter.
But for Amos, the biggest deciding factor was his team’s inability to stop Purnell Swett from scoring inside the paint. Three Rams’ players reached double figures Friday night: power forward Mitchell Hill, 6’5” shooting guard James Chavis and small forward Chris Mcmanus, who had 20, 15 and 14 points respectively.
The vast majority of their points came via layups and easy drives to the basket.
“Those post points were a perfect example of the lack of both team defense and good, sound defense that we played tonight,” Amos said. “They got around us far too easily out there tonight, and that falls on us not playing defense with any intensity nor effort.”
Scotland did have some opportunities to vault back into the game, including a sluggish third quarter that saw the Rams go 6-of-18 and fail to capitalize on several trips to the free throw line. But during that same stretch, Scotland was locked in their own frustrating battle to put up points, notching just three baskets as Purnell Swett maintained a comfortable cushion.
Gregory was the leading scorer for the Scots against Purnell Swett, earning 13 points, while forward Maseo Graham joined Gregory as the only other player on Scotland to earn double-digit points on the night, scoring 10 of his own.
With the loss, Scotland moves to 0-10 on the year, with their next game occurring Jan. 15 at Pinecrest. The girls’ varsity squad will kick off the action that night at 6 p.m.