The Christmas holiday seems as if it marks a turning point in Scotland County from the fall football season to the winter basketball season. The first game of the high school football season was played just a few days over 17 weeks ago, yet when the season came to an end on Dec. 14 in Raleigh it still felt jarring.
Everything since the summer has been about football season. Even the last week after the state championship saw discussions about the team continue, as the All-Conference roster was released, coach Richard Bailey held his last radio show of the season and fans debated how the game could have gone differently.
Now it’s basketball’s turn to take center stage. The Scots have already played three games, but the season is still just beginning. Scotland elected to start its season later than many other counties due to the extended football season, which lasted five weeks after the final game of the regular season. Although the Scots have not been as dominant on the court as they were on the football field, their games are still a good occasion to spend a night out.
There are compelling reasons to watch both the girls’ and boys’ teams, and since they always play doubleheaders it is easy to see them both. Michael Malpass, who coaches the boys, has his team playing a fast-paced style of play as he attempts to mold a competitive group for the upcoming conference schedule.
Malpass, in his first season, is a coach used to winning. He captured two state championships as coach of Crenshaw Academy in Alabama. His Scotland teams have not been winning (0-3) but they never stop running. The Scots run almost the entire time during practices, and improvements have been seen throughout the early games. In the last two games the Scots have played their best basketball in the fourth quarter only to come up just short.
Fellow first-year coach Janie Hodges is leading the girls’ team, which is an extremely young one, with eight of the 11 players on the roster being underclassmen. The team, made up of two freshmen, six sophomores, two juniors and one senior, represents the future of Scotland basketball. If the group ends up staying together and growing together, the experience they are gaining from playing varsity this early in their careers could pay off big time in the long run.
But it’s not all about the future. The team has already picked up one win, a 71-45 victory over Red Springs on Dec. 10.
Both teams are off for the holidays, but will both compete in tournaments soon. The boys will spend a few days at West Bladen High School for a tournament from Dec. 27-30, while the girls will travel to South Florence High School for a four-day tournament that begins on the first day of 2014.
The Scots play two more road games — at Seventy-First on Jan. 9 and at Purnell Swett on Jan. 10 — before returning to the Scotland High gym on Jan. 14 against Pinecrest. Hopefully the fans will come out to the gym when it gets cold this winter, spend a couple hours indoors and show the basketball teams the same level of support that they did throughout the fall for the football team.