SOUTHERN PINES — With the game on the line and second place in the conference hanging in the balance Fighting Scots senior Niem Ratliffe pulled up and a three to give his team the lead with only seconds left.
Pinecrest had seen this movie before, lasts month Ratliffe lifted his team over the Patriots on an 80-foot shot at the buzzer for the 55-54 victory.
Friday’s shot wasn’t as dramatic, but had the same result — a single-digit win for the Fighting Scots, on a shot from Ratiffe.
With 4.4 seconds left, Pinecrest’s Tyrell Allmond drew a foul and went to the line. Allmond misses the first shot and Ratliffe signals to his teammates not to foul or make a move as the next shot heads for the rim.
Allmond misses the second shot and the Patriots get the rebound and toss the ball to the perimeter for a game-tying three — the shot is tipped by the Scots and the Patriots lose, 45-42.
The small, but mighty Scots student section comprised of Tyler Sellers, Matthew Hyatt, Matt Sellers, Daly Marcano and Jackson Sellers celebrated until they were asked by Pinecrest administration to exit the gym.
The three-point victory by Scotland looked unlikely in the first half as the Scots trailed 23-11 at the break. The Scots had five turnovers in the first quarter, but three points from Ratliffe and fellow senior Justin McRae kept them in the game.
Pinecrest took a commanding lead in the second quarter as the Scots only managed to score three points — a basket by Ratliffe and one free throw from sophomore Bruce Wall.
Scots head coach Matt Justin must have gave quite the speech in the locker room, because the Fighting Scots that came out in the second half looked nothing like the team from the first.
The Scots outscored the Patriots 18-7 in the third quarter to trim Pinecrest’s lead to one, 30-29. The Scots tied the game at 32 on a three-point jumper from junior Isaiah Bostick. The two teams continued to tie the score at 36, 38 and 40 before a basket by McRae gave the Scots a 42-40 lead.
Allmond responded with a trip into the lane to score for Pinecrest to tie it at 42. The Patriots called a time out before the ensuing Scots possession.
The Scots draining the clock and with just a few seconds left, Ratliffe draining the three to bring the handful of Scots fans in the crowd to their feet and win the game.
Ratliffe led the Scots with 15 points followed by Bostick with 12 and McRae with 11. Wall tallied five and Trey Dixon added two points.
With the win, the Fighting Scots move to 13-6 overall and 7-4 in conference play while the Patriots move to 16-5 overall and 7-4 in SAC-8.
Despite the two teams have the same conference record, the Scots have bested the Patriots in both of their meetings; therefore, the Scots assume sole possession of second place behind undefeated Hoke, 12-0.
Pinecrest falls to third place just ahead of Seventy-First in fourth at 6-5 while Lumberton sits in fifth place at 6-6. Jack Britt is in sixth at 4-8 followed by seventh place Purnell Swett, 2-9 and last-place Richmond at 2-10.
The Fighting Scots finish up the regular season with three conference games — Tuesday at home against Lumberton for Senior Night then on the road at UNCP against Purnell Swett before traveling to Richmond on Friday. Tip off for all three games is set for 7:30 p.m.
Amber Hatten-Staley can be reached at 910-506-3170 or [email protected]