Despite a season littered with impressive performances, the junior varsity lady Scots haven’t been able to solve Lumberton in recent weeks.
After losing to Lumberton 52-47 just over a week ago, Scotland hosted the lady Pirates Tuesday night at home. And though it was a game that remained neck-and-neck for nearly the entirety of regulation, the lady Scots (16-2) ultimately allowed Lumberton too many easy baskets down the stretch, falling 51-46 to their conference foe.
Both of the lady Scots’ losses this season have come at the hands of Lumberton. And more importantly, Tuesday night’s loss saw Scotland fall to second place in the conference behind the lady Pirates.
“It was simply a lack of hustling down the stretch for us tonight,” said lady Scots’ coach Linda Crosland after the game. “When we miss shots we get down on ourselves, and that translates to our defensive game. We play man defense, and tonight you saw the team letting their assigned player get away from them.”
Both teams got off to a slow start in the first quarter, scoring 18 combined points. Scotland guard-forward Qutina Everette led the way with five points in the quarter, but then followed with one of her quietest extended stretches of the season offensively. Everette, who has been a prolific scorer for the lady Scots all season, managed just two points in the second and third quarters combined.
However, even with one of their leading scorers battling through a cold stretch, the lady Scots still managed to keep things knotted in the first half due to the performance of point guard Ashlyn Dial. The freshman guard scored eight points in the second quarter (including 4-5 from the free-throw line) as Scots ended the half tied with Lumberton 24-24.
In the third quarter, however, the lady Pirates began to find seams in the Scotland defense, and a bank shot from lady Pirates’ forward Mariah Locklear with just over a minute left in the quarter gave Lumberton a 37-30 lead, the largest of the game for either team. The third quarter ended with Lumberton up 37-32 over the lady Scots.
But Scotland had one last run left in them to make the fourth quarter an intense affair, sparked by the performance of role-player Eriel McDuffie. Coming off the bench for the lady Scots, McDuffie ignited those in attendance by scoring six consecutive points (all layups) which helped Scotland pull to within one with just under six minutes left to play.
McDuffie scored all eight of her points in the fourth quarter.
Everette also came up big in the final minutes after swiping a Lumberton pass to create a successful Scotland fast-break opportunity, as she found Dial in full-stride for the go-ahead basket at the 2:50 mark.
But after the game-changing Dial layup, Lumberton took back control of the game after a pair of layups from Alexis Andrews and Randy Bullard again gave the lady Pirates the five-point advantage. Unfortunately for the lady Scots, the five-point advantage came too late in the contest to mount one more comeback, and the final score stuck as the remaining seconds ticked off the clock.
Scotland has just two games remaining on their schedule: A home-game tonight against non-conference opponent Terry Sanford, and the season-ending game at rival Richmond Friday night.