In order for the Scotland varsity boys’ basketball squad to earn their first win Thursday night, they had to address many of the issues that have plagued them throughout the 2012-13 season.
Mainly, a penchant for getting down early in games, committing costly turnovers and getting out-rebounded at both ends of the court.
And against the Pinecrest Patriots, the Fighting Scots managed to right their frustrating season’s wrongs and pick up the 60-44 win.
“I hate that we’re not playing tonight and attempting to keep some momentum going,” said Scotland coach Jackie Amos in reference to all Scotland Friday night basketball games being cancelled due to weather. “But hopefully this win gave us a boost of confidence. We’ll have to regroup and remember what we did to win our first game so we can keep it up.”
When the first quarter of regulation concluded, the Scots found themselves in a position that they rarely, if ever, found themselves in at any point of the season.
Scotland had opened a 14-9 lead, a complete turnaround from the slow starts that have crippled their chances of coming out victorious in game’s past.
And as they huddled together after the quarter, Amos could already see a new-found energy in his players.
“They started preaching to themselves that they could do this, that they could finally put themselves in a position to win,” Amos said. “I told them that they couldn’t start slacking or letting up at all, and these guys answered the call throughout.”
Despite a lull that saw the Patriots momentarily gain a lead over the Scots midway through the second quarter, Scotland remained largely in control for the entirety of the game.
The Scots were led in scoring by forward Artemis Robinson, who had 20 points. And in another season first, Scotland had the size advantage over their opponent and subsequently hauled in more rebounds than the Patriots. Senior center Aly Kaba led the Scots in this department with eight rebounds to go with his 14 points, which helped Scotland prevent the Patriots from earning second-chance baskets off of offensive rebounds, another issue that has haunted the Scots.
Scotland guards Robert McKoy and Tra’Shawn Gregory also contributed nine and seven points, respectively. And after a 16-point third quarter, the Scots stayed the course and continued their solid play right until the final buzzer, making the most of their free throw attempts down the stretch by converting 13-21 from the line.
“We’ve had several Achilles’ Heels this season, but we limited them this time around and it made a huge difference,” Amos said. “They played hard, and most importantly, they wanted to win this game.”
The varsity Lady Scots were also in action Thursday night at Pinecrest: And while they maintained a lead through the first three quarters, Scotland ended up on the wrong end of a furious Patriots’ fourth-quarter comeback to lose their third game of the season 56-47.
Knowing they had a front-court height advantage over the lady Scots, Pinecrest enlisted 6’3” center and four-year varsity starter Janea Williams to keep Scotland off-balance. The plan worked to perfection, and Williams scored 32 points and dominated the paint all night long.
“Their coach (Janie Hodges) played to the mismatches that Janea caused, and that was a smart move on her part,” Scotland head coach David Johnson said. “Janea took advantage of our front-court and was on fire the whole game. We missed Jonissa Monley’s presence tonight, because not having an extra body in there really hurt us.”
Even though Williams remained a force on both ends of the court Thursday night, Scotland nonetheless stayed ahead for the most part in what was a hotly-contested game.
Scotland’s guard play provided much of the offensive heavy-lifting against the lady Patriots, with senior Tykeria Johnson leading all Scots’ scorers with 19 points. Junior guard Malaysia Chisholm also played extremely well, as she came off the bench to contribute 11 points.
But while she added 14 points and 13 steals of her own, Scotland point guard Ariel Ratcliff managed only three assists on the night, which came as a direct result of the lady Scots’ lack of transition baskets, one of the team’s strongest suits.
“It’s a big part of our game and what makes us successful,” Johnson said. “If we fail to get fastbreak points, we tend to get stagnant offensively and that happened on Thursday.”
Scotland falls to 11-3 on the year.
Barring any more inclement weather, the varsity boys and girls will next take the court Tuesday Jan. 29 at Richmond, with a tip-off time of 6 p.m.