With their 56-37 win over the Cape Fear lady Cavs Dec. 14, the Scotland girl’s varsity squad demonstrated all of the trademarks that have made them a favorite in the Southeastern Conference and beyond.
“I think everyone is understanding their role with this team,” said Scotland head coach David Johnson. “We are blocking a lot of shots, getting steals, dominating the glass and getting good stops on defense. Our players are playing to their strengths and it’s been a huge plus for us this season.”
Though the lady Cavs put up a better fight against Scotland the second time around following their first contest (a blowout win for the lady Scots), the outcome was never in any doubt this past Friday night.
Scotland began the game somewhat sluggish offensively, but their consistently stifling defense once again created scoring opportunities as the lady Scots began to build a sizable lead.
Usually accustomed to facilitating the offense, Scotland point guard Ariel Ratcliff posted her highest point total of the young season, scoring 20 points and adding six rebounds, eight steals and three assists to her impressive stat line. According to Johnson, much of Ratcliff’s point production came from fast-break opportunities created from his star point guard’s ability to cause turnovers.
While Ratcliff dominated the backcourt, the post presence of senior forward Jonissa Monley set the tone in the paint, as Scotland’s reigning conference player of the year notched a double-double (16 points, 15 rebounds) to go with her four assists.
Despite their penchant for attacking the basket and aggressive defense, Scotland also managed to keep their foul total in check which allowed the lady Scots to maintain their usual player rotation.
While it was another impressive victory for the lady Scots, their performance from the free throw line was once again underwhelming according to Johnson. Scotland finished the game 13 of 24, good for just over 50% from the line, and it’s one of the areas that Johnson will look to improve upon over the holiday break.
“It’s still a major concern for our team, and we’ll have to refine it going into the second half of the season,” Johnson said. “I don’t want it to be a lingering issue, but this team is aware that they need to get better at it and I have no doubt that we will.”
Though it will be roughly two weeks before they resume their regular season schedule, the lady Scots will not rest on their laurels heading into 2013. Beginning Dec. 27, Scotland will travel to Florence, S.C. to take part in the ‘Little Caesar’s Invitational’ holiday basketball tournament, which will feature seven other teams from South Carolina.
And while the tournament is designed to keep the participating teams in-rhythm during the lengthy break, Johnson is confident that his team’s desire to constantly improve will do the rest heading into the new year.
“You don’t have to beg this team to get into the gym, they do it all on their own,” Johnson said. “They want to be great and have people talk about them, and so far they’ve benefited from all the hard work they’ve put into their game.”