BENNETTSVILLE, S.C. — It was a race to the finish on Tuesday as the Fighting Scots travelled just across the state line to South Carolina to play Marlboro County.
The Scots kept pace with the Bulldogs to pull out a 61-51 non-conference win to improve to 2-1 on the season. Senior Justin McRae’s sharp shooting in the third quarter proved to be the difference maker.
McRae dropped 10 points in the third quarter gave the Scots a 43-39 lead heading into the final eight minutes. Junior Isaiah Bostick and senior Niem Ratliffe closed out the game for the Scots. Bostick had nine points from the field with a three and a dunk set up by a steal from senior Janoah McRae.
Ratliffe had two baskets in the fourth quarter and went to the line twice to close out the game.
The expedited pace of the game caused the Scots and Bulldogs to commit a combined 27 turnovers.
Eight of the turnovers were steals by the Fighting Scots defense, which played much more aggressively than they did in their previous game against Westover.
Ratliffe led the team in steals with three steals while sophomore Garrett McRae tallied two. Justin McRae and Janoah McRae along with Bostick each came up with one steal.
The game started out on a high note for the Scots as Bostick drained a three that hit nothing but net. Marlboro County sophomore Wesley Brown responded with a three of his own to tie the game. By the end of the first quarter, the Bulldogs had taken a 12-9 lead. The Fighting Scots hot start had fizzled due to turnovers and penalties.
The Scots closed the gap in the second quarter, shrinking Marlboro County’s lead to two-points by halftime.
The defense stepped up their game and forced two turnovers, along with some help from an unfocused Bulldogs offense. The Scots only scored four baskets, but the two three pointers from Jonah McRae and Bostick plus a dunk from Bostick were just enough to a fire under the offense.
Heading into the locker room, the Scots trailed the Bulldogs, 22-20. Marlboro County opened the second half with a three-point jumper to extend their lead to five. Two quick baskets by the Scots and a steal and basket by Garrett McRae gave the Fighting Scots a one-point lead, 26-25.
Marlboro County tied the game at 29 before a basket by Ratliffe and Adonis Jackson gave the Scots a slim, four-point lead, 33-29. The Bulldogs clawed their way back with a trip to the free=throw line to make it a three point game.
The Bulldogs defense got a little too aggressive and fouled Ratliffe in three-point range sending him to the line. The Scots senior made all three baskets to re-extend his teams lead.
The Scots ended the final seconds of the third quarter with a three-point by Justin McRae and back-to-back baskets by Bostick gave Scotland a four-point lead, 43-39.
The fourth quarter saw the Scots put the game out of reach with a dominant performance by the offense and defense. Scotland and Marlboro County will play in Laurinburg on Dec. 18 with the varsity girls game starting at 6 p.m.
The Scots are back in action Thursday with a road game against Gray’s Creek at 7:30 p.m. The team opened their season against the Bears and picked up a 64-36 victory.
Amber Hatten can be reached at 910-506-3170.