LAURINBURG — The Fighting Scots had a three-point lead over Hoke County heading into the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s game.
Eight trips to the free-throw line and three 3-pointers by the Bucks erased that lead and Hoke handed the Fighting Scots their first conference loss, 69-62. Down the stretch, Hoke’s Dakari Johnson hit a three-point jumper to give the bucks a two-point lead.
Scots senior Niem Ratliffe tied the game at 51 with a drive into the lane. The Scots regained a one-point lead off a block by junior Isaiah Bostick and an old-fashioned three-point play by senior Justin McRae.
McRae drove the lane, made the basket and drew the foul. McRae made his foul shot to put the Scots up, 55-54 with 3:09 left. The momentum shift caused Hoke to call a quick timeout.
Ratliffe and the Scots came out of the timeout and score to take a three-point lead, which was erased by a second three-point shot by Johnson.
Tied at 57, the Scots couldn’t find the net and Hoke got the rebound and back-to-back baskets after a steal by leading scorer Silas Love.
Down 61-57, Fighting Scots head coach Matt Justin called a time out with 1:13 left to play. The Scots had to foul Hoke after the timeout, sending Jaleel Ray to the line. Ray made both shots to extent the Bucks lead, 63-57.
Ratliffe brought his team to back within two after drawing the foul from beyond the arc. Down three, the Scots fouled the Bucks again, this time sending Love to the line. Love split his shots, but Hoke got the rebound and the Scots continued to foul sending Johnson to the line.
Johnson drained both free throws to give Hoke a six-point lead, 66-60 with 25.8 seconds left to play.
Garrett McRae drove down the court and hit the open layup with 16.2 seconds remaining the Scots had to stop the clock and send Hoke’s Andre Pegues to the line for a one and one. Pegues split the shots, but the Bucks again got the rebound and ended the game with two successful free throws from Elijah Davis Harris.
The up and back in the fourth quarter ask the two teams combined to score 48 points. The Fighting Scots had outscored the Bucks in the first two quarters of the game to take a 26-22 lead into halftime. Hoke outscored the Scots in the third quarter, 18-17 but Scotland still had held their three-point lead into the final quarter.
Ratliffe paced the Scots with 23 points while Garrett McRae chipped in 11 and Isaiah Bostick added nine.
Hoke was led by Dakari Johnson with 20 points and seven rebounds followed by Elijah Harris with 14. Silas Love had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
With the loss, Scotland moves to 6-2 overall and 2-1 in Sandhills Athletic Conference play while Hoke moves to 8-1 overall and 3-0 in SAC-8 play.
The Fighting Scots are back in action on Friday, Dec. 15 hosting Seventy-First as they close out conference play for 2017. The Falcons are 5-3 overall and 1-2 in SAC-8 play. Tip off for that game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Amber Hatten-Staley can be reached at 910-506-3170 or email@example.com.