LAURINBURG — Mariah Locklear was understandably a little nervous when she let the ball out of her hands in the final seconds of a tied game in overtime.
She wasn’t sure if the shot was going to fall. But it did, perfectly, and it put Lumberton ahead of Scotland 47-44 with 18 seconds left in the game. The Pirates held on to win by that score and secure a playoff spot.
“I got open and I knew I had to hit it. I feel most comfortable when the ball is in my hands,” Locklear said.
Locklear, who scored nine total points on the night, said she has made shots late in games before, but this was the first game winner she can remember making. Scotland got the ball back for one final possession but was unable to find an open look, forcing ShanQaylia Stanton to throw up a desperate shot at the buzzer that did not come close to going in.
Locklear’s shot gave Scotland its first conference loss and capped off a fourth-quarter comeback by the Pirates. The game had been close all night, with Scotland staying ahead by just a handful of points. The Scots led by two at halftime and four at the start of the fourth quarter. The lead was stretched out to five with 2:40 left in the game, but then Lumberton started to make its shots and stop the Scots’.
Katilyn Singletary made two key baskets in the final minute of regulation to send the game to overtime. She grabbed a rebound after Scotland’s Khasiya Sellers missed a free throw that would have made it a three-point game, and then scored on a layup with 16 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Scotland missed a shot at the buzzer, just like at the end of overtime. So four more minutes were added to the clock with the game tied at 42.
The extra period was a defensive struggle, with neither team scoring until the final minute of play. Alexis Andrews scored first for Lumberton before Scotland tied it with 38 seconds left. Lumberton called a timeout, and got the ball to Locklear for the victory.
Lumberton coach Danny Graham said he was proud of his team’s effort, and that the difference in the game was the way his team won the battle in the paint.
“I thought our kids played real hard and played with much resiliency tonight. We really challenged them on the way over here, on the court and during halftime to step up and really play well,” Graham said. “Our key to game was to try and cut off Scotland’s best talent, which is inside and we did a good job, not a great job, but our kids did what we asked them to do and they gave us a great effort.”
Lumberton improves to 14-8 overall and 5-4 in the conference with the win, while Scotland falls to 11-8 and 9-1 in the conference. Lumberton has one final game left against Purnell Swett, who is 0-9 in the SEC. Scotland is done, and will await its playoff seeding.
Scotland coach Janie Hodges said the team did not match the intensity the Pirates brought to the game.
“We wanted to go in and win this game but the cookie crumbled another way, and we’ve got to take this and just move forward and get ready for the playoffs,” Hodges said.
“I think the difference tonight was we didn’t respond to aggression the way that we should have. The way we’ve been doing,” she said.
Destiny Campbell led the Scots with her 16 points and 12 rebounds. She also added nine blocks. Sellers also had a double-double with 12 points and 19 rebounds.
Singletary and Randi Bullard led the Pirates with 10 points each.