LAURINBURG — Red Springs held on to beat Scotland 53-45 Tuesday despite a furious rally by Scotland in the fourth quarter.
The Scots scored 22 points in the final eight minutes, but it was not enough to bridge the gap to the Devils. The Scots repeatedly got the game within six or seven points, but then would give up a fast break score, or more often, a foul to let the Devils extend their lead just enough.
Scotland trailed 14-28 at the halftime break and Red Springs looked in control for most of the opening half. In the final two quarters, however, Scotland’s defense was able to create turnovers and open up the game. The defense, which normally plays in a 2-3 zone formation, instead started putting pressure on Red Springs with the full-court man-to-man defense.
Scotland coach Michael Malpass said the shift in strategy was brought about to spark his team’s offense, which had not been able to find many points in the first half. In addition to creating better scoring opportunities for Scotland, the up-tempo defense would put more pressure on the visitors and lead to more turnovers and mistakes.
“It’s really out of character for us to play full-court man … I felt like tonight we couldn’t get it going so we went to it and it sped the game up and let us get back in it,” Malpass said. “But there were just some things that we did that let some guys get behind us. You’ve got to keep everything in front of you and trap and hope that they hurry and turn it over.”
For most of the fourth quarter, Red Springs did turn it over, leading to several fast break situations for the Scots. Jordan Ratliffe scored most of the points for Scotland, as he finished with 22 total points. He also had six steals, as he was one of the players pressuring the Devils near the half-court line.
The closest Scotland came to taking the lead came with just over two minutes left to play, when Ratliffe hit a three-point shot while being fouled. He added the free throw to make it a four-point play and making it 47-42.
However, Red Springs was able to get around the defensive pressure and make a couple of easy baskets and free throws to win the game. Despite the loss, Malpass said the full-court press helped the Scots get back into the game after it looked like no shots were going to fall for them.
“It’s hard to play from behind in the zone when you’re not hitting shots, and we weren’t scoring. Our offense was stagnate. We got decent looks in the first half, better than last game. We just didn’t put them in.”