FAYETTEVILLE — The landscape of the Sandhills Athletic Conference standings is ever changing as the final two weeks of the season wind down.
The Fighting Scots are riding a three-game losing streak after dropping a 66-58 game to Seventy-First on Tuesday. Despite the losses, the Scots sit in third place in the SAC-8 standings with a 6-4 record.
Hoke is just a handful of games away from its second straight regular season conference championship with a 10-0 record. Pinecrest is in second place at 7-3 in SAC-8 play.
Seventy-First moves into fourth place at 5-5 after the win over Scotland and it one game ahead of Lumberton. The Pirates sit one game ahead of Jack Britt in fifth place at 4-6. The Buccaneers are 4-7 and sitting in sixth place, two games ahead of Purnell Swett at 2-7. Richmond remains in eighth place at 2-8.
During Tuesday’s game in Fayetteville, the Scots took an early 6-3 lead before a missed call by the referee caused senior Justin McRae to incur his first technical foul of the season. McRae threw the ball into the stands after the officials ruled in the Falcons favor on an out-of-bounds call.
The trip to the line and a quick basket by Seventy-First’s Brion McLaurin gave the Falcons a 10-6 lead. Two more baskets saw Seventy-First take a 14-7 lead at the end of the final quarter.
The Scots played inspired in the second quarter to outscore the Falcons 19-12 to tie the game at 26 heading into halftime. Seniors Brenton Thomas, Niem Ratliffe and Janoah McRae combined for three three-pointers to spur the Scots offense.
Following the break, the Scots came out and took a two-point lead by the end of the third quarter, 45-43. Junior Isaiah Bostick started the quarter off with a trip to the line and a three-pointer to give the Scots a 30-26 lead.
The Falcons closed the gap towards the end of the quarter with a basket by Darius Bryant and a trip to the line by Jaden Scriven.
Reginald Bryant gave Seventy-First a two-point lead on back-to-back trips down the floor. The Falcons outscored the Scots 23-13 in the final quarter to secure the 66-58 victory. The Scots had the looks at the basket, but had too many empty trips down the court as Janoah McRae and Thomas had the only two three-pointers that fell — the half dozen other three the Scots attempted rattled off the rim.
Ratliffe paced the Scots with 15 points and sophomore Bruce Wall was the other Scot in double figures with 13 points. Thomas added nine points — all from beyond the arc.
With the loss, the Scots move to 12-6 overall and 6-4 in conference play while Seventy-First moves to 11-8 overall and 5-5 in SAC-8 play.
The Scots remain on the road Friday as they head to Southern Pines to take on the No. 2 Patriots. Tip off is set for 7:30 p.m. When the two teams met last month, Ratliffe hit an 80-foot shot at the buzzer to help lift the Scots over Pinecrest.
Amber Hatten-Staley can be reached at 910-506-3170 or email@example.com.