HOPE MILLS — The Fighting Scots finished eighth in the Sandhills Athletic Conference Tournament over the weekend at Jack Britt High School.
Scotland earned 33.5 team points for last place while Pinecrest edged out Purnell Swett for the tournament champion crown. The Patriots tallied 177 points for first place while Purnell had 170.5 team points for second place. Lumberton finished third with 149.5 points, just five points ahead of fourth place Jack Britt.
Richmond took fifth place with 54 team points followed by Hoke with 44 and Seventy-First with 39.
The Fighting Scots had eight wrestlers compete in Saturday’s SAC-8 tournament led by a third place finish from sophomore Ethan Tone in the 132-pound weight class.
Tone started his day off with a 9-2 decision with over Seventy-First’s Richy Guzman to advance to the semi-finals. In the second round, Tone got pinned with eight seconds remaining in the first period by Purnell Swett’s William Deese.
Moving into the consolation bracket, Tone earned a technical fall victory over Richmond’s Matthew Haber, 16-1. Tone then faced off for a second time against Guzman and for the second time came away with a victory. This time, Tone earned the 8-2 decision win to secure third place at 132. The win gives Tone an 8-8 record for the season.
Fighting Scots senior Juan Sanchez wrestled in the 285-pound weight class and earned fourth place after being pinned by Purnell Swett’s Rayshaun Baker at the 2:16 mark.
Sanchez started his day with a pin against Hoke County’s Nacoma Hunt in the first 34 seconds of their match. Sanchez then went toe-to-toe with Pinecrest’s Tanner Kreitlow in the semi-finals. The two went back and forth until Keritlow executed one move that allowed him to pin Sanchez in the third period for the win.
The Scots senior didn’t waste any time in his first consolation match pinning Richmond’s Jeremy Ward 19 seconds into their match. In his third-place match, Sanchez went up against Purnell Swett’s Rayshaun Baker and lost to Baker via pinfall at the 2:16 mark.
“As a team we’ve been very successful, our seniors have provided good leadership, our juniors and sophomores have been trying to learn new things every day,” said first-year head coach Thomas Havner. “The biggest thing is we need to focus more on technique and less on what we have to learn and what we don’t.”
The Scots were in contention for two other third-place matches with sophomore Seth English, 120, and senior Ja’Quann Carr, 182, but both lost in their second consolation matches — which Havner said was a blow to the team because of the leadership role the two have on the team.
“It’s frustrating because these guys (Seth and Ja’Quann) are well seasoned veterans and they should know better,” Havner said. “It’s frustrating as a coach because they are your lead guys and you don’t want to see them go down that way.”
English lost in overtime to Lumberton’s Justin Kelly, 9-7, after leading the entire match. English got caught in a take down in the overtime period, which gave Kelly the two-points he needed to win. Prior to the overtime loss, English had a pinfall victory over Jack Britt’s Ryan Lock before losing to Purnell Swett’s Noah Emmanuel via pinfall at the 2:25 mark.
Carr lost his first match in the final seconds of the third period to Seventy-First’s Sincere Bates before rallying to pin Richmond’s Evan Ingram 15 seconds into their bout. Carr then faced off with Purnell Swett’s Noah Locklear in the second round of consolation matches. Carr got pinned 47 seconds into the second period.
Overall, the Scots finished sixth in the conference ahead of Hoke County and Seventy-First — not where Havner was hoping his team would end up; however, he still deems the season a success.
“Other than an early loss to Richmond, everything went the way I thought it would. I knew Lumberton and Purnell Swett would set the standard for our league and that’s what we were going to be striving for,” he said. “Injuries late in the season hurt us, Jeremiah McCrimmon with his back and Ethan Locklear with his knee. We’re giving up points where we shouldn’t be but overall we’re the Fighting Scots and we’ve fought as much as we could.”
The Fighting Scots had four other wrestlers compete in Saturday’s conference tournament — sophomore Brendon Smith at 126; freshman Jason Blackenship at 138; sophomore Ian Smith at 195 and freshman Nathaniel Harrington at 220.
Havner and his team will have to wait until Wednesday to find out if they secured one of the spots in the 4A Midwest Regional, which will be held at Glenn High School in Kernersville on Feb. 2 and 3.
“The 4A Midwest regional you’ve got a lot of good established schools,” said Havner. “We’re going to probably have five or six qualify for regionals — which is good on a really freshman and sophomore team. Those guys deserve it and hopefully we’ll finish the year strong. The top four wrestlers go to state and I would like to take a couple so we’ll see what happens.”
Wrestling on Friday begins at 5:30 p.m. and will continue on Saturday. Feb. 3 at 9 a.m.
Amber Hatten-Staley can be reached at 910-506-3170 or email@example.com.