Following his team’s 63-61 loss to Purnell Swett Jan. 11, Scotland head JV basketball coach Megil McLean had little to criticize regarding the Scots’ overall play.
But with that said, his team will undoubtedly spend plenty of practice time at the free throw line in the days leading up to their next conference home-game.
“I wasn’t upset at all about the game or our performance, because everyone played well and we hustled the entire time,” McLean said. “But even though it was a great effort, the free throw line absolutely killed us.”
In the JV Scots’ previous six games (all wins), the team had missed fewer than 20 combined free throws as Scotland rolled to a spot atop the Southeastern Conference.
But this past Friday night, the team missed 22 free throw attempts which was the primary reason Scotland let a hotly-contested game slip away in the final seconds.
Scotland found themselves playing at a competitive disadvantage to the Rams in the early goings, as freshman guard Jordan Ratliffe went down in the first quarter with an apparent head injury which kept him out for most of the first half. The length of Purnell Swett also posed problems for the Scots, as three of the Rams’ five starting players stood 6’3” or taller.
When the second quarter buzzer sounded, Scotland had fallen behind 10 points. But though the team was outmatched in overall size, it prompted McLean to adopt a different strategy heading into the second half of regulation.
“They were longer than us and we were often settling for jump shots which is how we got down in the game,” McLean said. “So at half time, I urged my team to attack the basket and utilize a pump fake to get them in the air to create easy free throw opportunities.”
The strategy worked wonders for Scotland in the third quarter, as the Scots steadily climbed back into the game. And by the fourth quarter, Scotland had taken the lead and appeared poised to continue their undefeated streak as the game turned into a back-and-forth affair.
However, Scotland’s free-throw issues persisted throughout, and three late turnovers by the Scots ultimately proved the deciding factor in the game as all three miscues resulted in fast break points for Purnell Swett in the final two minutes.
Scotland forward Randy Leak led all scorers with 17, and was followed closely behind by starting power forward Jaylend Ratliffe who contributed 16 points as well.
Due to Tuesday’s postponement of a scheduled home-game against Pinecrest, the JV Fighting Scots will next take the court this Friday night (Jan. 18) at home against Hoke. The girls’ JV squad will kick things off at 5 p.m. in the new gym.