As is the case with many a Scotland season, the ninth-grade basketball Fighting Scots had their quest for first place in the Southeastern Conference come down to a season-ending clash with rival Richmond.
And for the boys and girls Scots’ squads, a sweep of the Raiders in consecutive games proved to be the difference-maker in each of their seasons, as both finished the 2012-13 season on top of the conference.
The lady Scots would win their game with Richmond 44-23, while the boys defeated the Raiders by a score of 55-40.
“This group is great and full of hard workers,” said Scotland girls ninth-grade coach Nellie Maltby, whose squad finished the season 6-2 in her second year as coach. “I’m proud of how the season turned out for them.”
The lady Scots were never in danger of surrendering a lead to Richmond throughout the game, despite operating with just six active players after guard Ranasia Crosland left early in the first quarter after colliding with a lady Raiders’ player.
Scotland held the lady Raiders scoreless through the first six minutes of the game while jumping out to a 10-0 lead in the process. The lady Scots’ defense was stout all night, holding Richmond to their lowest point total of the season including first and second quarters where the lady Raiders scored just five and four points, respectively.
Only three Scotland starters supplied the offense against Richmond: Guard/forward Qutina Everette (20 points), Ashlyn Dial (14 points) and Kwadeja Quick (10 points). One of the leaders for the lady Scots in scoring all season, Everette has defined versatility on the year for Scotland, playing every position on the court at one point throughout the course of eight games.
“Qutina can play wherever you want her to, and most importantly she’s always willing to do whatever it takes to help her team,” Maltby said. “She’s a true utility player.”
While the lady Scots earned first-place conference honors outright, the ninth-grade boys have scratched and clawed to keep pace with Richmond throughout the season. After dropping two of their first three games, the Scots came on strong in 2013 by winning four-of-five, including their impressive 15-point victory over the Raiders Thursday night.
The win gave Scotland (who finished the season at 6-4) a split of first place with Richmond at season’s end.
According to head coach Robert Brown, he knew his team could end the season with a statement win against their biggest rival after a Feb. 4 overtime thriller saw Scotland best Lumberton 58-56. The Scots secured the victory in that game without two of their best players: guard Jordan Ratliffe and forward Randy Leak, who have split time between the ninth-grade and junior varsity squads this season.
“When we did that, I knew we were ready to play ball,” Brown said. “That win showed this team that they could get it done on both ends of the floor.”
Leading scorer for the Fighting Scots against Lumberton was Willie Douglas, who notched a game and season-high 30 points that day. And against Richmond Thursday night, Douglas continued his hot hand by scoring another 17 points including a pair of three-pointers in the first quarter. Ratliffe also returned for the Scots against the Raiders, and had a game-high 18 points on the night.
However, Richmond remained steadfast throughout most of the game, as the Raiders were down just one point to Scotland at the half.
But then the third quarter came, and Scotland regained the permanent advantage by outscoring Richmond 15-5 in the quarter. The Scotland lead swelled to 12 points at the quarter’s end after a bizarre play which saw a Richmond player score a buzzer-beating basket on his own goal to further add to the Raider’s woes.
A 9-0 run at the start of the fourth quarter saw Scotland extend their lead to 20 points and build a cushion too great for the Raiders to overcome.
After the game, Brown discussed the young talent he helped helm this season, and where he sees them going should they continue progressing as student athletes.
“These guys have fought hard all season and really came together at the end of the season,” Brown said. “They’re about a year or so away, but in a couple seasons the rest of the conference will have to answer to these guys.”