After an opening game that saw the home team make just 33% of its free throws, Scotland County looked cursed at the charity stripe on Friday evening. The boys managed just slightly better, hitting nine of 24 free throws. But Lucas Howard and Jacob Blessing broke the streak when it mattered most, hitting four clutch free throws in the final seconds to secure a Scotland County sweep with a 51-46 win.
The Tigers smothered South Shelby with a swarming defense that held the Cardinals to just nine first period points. Unfortunately, the Tigers led by just one, 10-9 thanks to a cold shooting start to the night. Bailey Johnston scored on an offensive rebound with 4:24 left in the first period to get SCR-I on the scoreboard. Caleb Doubet converted a drive to the basket to beat the buzzer and put SCR-I ahead 10-9.
SCR-I’s offense had a three theme in the second period. Cordie Kigar opened the scoring with a three-pointer. Doubet followed, connecting from behind the arc to make the score 16-13.
A 6-0 South Shelby run had SCR-I trailing by three before Bailey Johnston grabbed an offensive rebound, one of five on the night. He scored and was fouled. converting the three-point play. And that’s how the quarter concluded, as Doubet grabbed a rebound and converted a three-point play to give the home team a 25-23 lead at the break.
The Scotland County full-court press held South Shelby in check in the third period. But the Tigers managed just eight points in the period. Howard and Blessing scored on fast break chances off South Shelby turnovers, forcing a Cardinals timeout with 6:12 left in the period. Unfortunately the only other points came on a three-pointer by Doubet and a free throw by Kigar that kept the lead at 33-31 for the home team.
Johnston had a pair of field goals to open the fourth period, but SCR-I could never separate from South Shelby. The visitors knotted the score at 42-42 with 2:38 left to play. Two free throws by Johnston gave SCR-I the lead for good. Howard scored on a fast break before a Kigar free throw made it 47-42 with 1:25 left to play.
Howard hit a pair of clutch free throws with 24.8 seconds to play to keep it a two possession lead before Blessing sealed the win with two free throws to make the final score 51-46.
Caleb Doubet led Scotland County (6-3) in scoring with 15 points. Johnston finished with 12 points and eight rebounds.