For a typical sports team, it’s nothing new to declare a team captain before the season. Selecting a captain not only instills a sense of leadership that everyone can abide by, but it also establishes an identity for the team moving forward.
There is no established team captain on the junior varsity basketball Fighting Scots. Rather, a new player is selected as captain before each game, giving each member of the Scots a chance to solidify both a presence and standing with his teammates.
It’s this selfless approach to the game and season at hand that has helped propel the JV Scots to a 5-0 start to their season.
“Every team has a captain, but for us everyone is a captain,” said Scotland JV starting power forward Jaylend Ratliffe, who is fresh off winning the Southeastern Conference offensive player of the year award for his performance as QB for the 12-2 varsity Scots. These days, Ratliffe can be found in the same starting lineup as his younger brother Jordan, who plays point guard for the team.
“We might just pick anybody to be captain so we can show them that they have a spot on this team,” he said.
Scotland JV coach Megil McLean is currently in the first-ever season coaching high school basketball. Prior to the 2012-13 season, McLean enjoyed a 10-year stint in the middle school circuit, including his role as head coach of last season’s Carver Middle School Eagles that went a perfect 12-0 en route to a conference championship.
On this season’s JV roster, a total of five players from that Carver squad are currently suiting up for the Fighting Scots, which has eased McLean’s transition into high school competition considerably.
“When I came in as coach here at Scotland I thought things were going to be way different,” McLean said. “But I’ve coached every single one of my guys at one point in their careers, and that combined with their hard work and unselfish play has helped me adjust quickly. They pass to the open man and play true team basketball, and it’s a credit to my players that we’ve made it work so far.”
“Playing with these guys at Carver really helped me prepare for this high school season,” said Jordan Ratliffe, who joins a list of current teammates including older brother Jaylend, Randy Leak and Darius McRae who played under McLean.”We all taught each other how to be better players.”
In terms of the team’s philosophy and what it seeks to accomplish every single night, you can look no further than 6’5” sophomore center Jeremias Easterling. A native of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Easterling moved to Scotland County approximately one year ago and has been a member of the Scots’ basketball program ever since.
Along with Easterling, the JV Scots have had a different high-scorer in each of their five contests, all of which they’ve won with relative ease. And according to Easterling, his time with the Fighting Scots has showcased two things to him: How a good team can help an outsider adjust to his new surroundings, and the championship potential of the team that still remains untapped.
“I’ve been in Laurinburg one year, and everyone on this team has been great to me,” Easterling said. “We’re pretty good now, but in about one or two years we can be really good.”