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By David Sharp
Scotland County (6-2) held Highland to three Lauren Merrell field goals for a 48-37 win over Scotland County in January 3, 2020 varsity girls play. The game was rescheduled due to inclement weather.
The Lady Tigers took an 11-6 first quarter lead. Addy Johnson sank a three pointer, capping a seven point Cougar run at the top of the second period. Highland put in six three balls to four for Scotland County on the night.
Katie Feeney and Aayla Humphrey drilled Scotland County home run balls during a 9-0 Tiger run to a 22-13 lead. Highland scored the final points of the first half for a 22-15 Scotland County intermission advantage.
Both sides missed their share of scoring opportunities. Scotland County was playing their first game since the Christmas Break. Highland played three times during the school downtime.
What the contest lacked in artistic merit, it made up for in competitiveness. Scotland County had the lead most of the game. Highland rallied to keep the contest close on the scoreboard most of the time.
Emiley Dial scored then Addy Johnson hit a three for a 28-25 score with 56 seconds to play in the third quarter. Lauren Merrell sank two Highland free throws for a 28-27 Tiger edge with 25 seconds remaining in the period.
Scotland County took a 30-27 lead to the fourth quarter. Micah Cooley and Emiley Dial scored interior points, leading the way to an 8-1 Tiger run to a 36-28 lead with 5:35 remaining.
“I am going to guess we shot in the 20’s or in the teens in our shooting percentage,” Highland coach Meleia Niemann said. “You are not going to win many ball games when you are not going to put the ball in the hole.”
“Our defense was good, especially in the first half,” Coach Niemann said. “We knew they were an active, aggressive team. We struggled with it at times. But I knew if we could be strong with the ball we could draw some fouls.”
Both sides reeled off quick fourth quarter runs. Lauren Merrell sank two Cougar free throws, pulling Highland within a field goal at the 4:30 mark of the fourth quarter. Scotland County scored four points in 33 seconds for a 40-34 edge.
Gabby Brown made it a one possession game. Scotland County led 40-37 with 2:51 to play in the game. A pair of empty possessions and a turnover in the last two minutes hurt the Cougar chances.
Highland (3-6) was called for a moving screen with a minute to play. Scotland County closed on an 8-0 run for the 48-37 win. The Tigers outscored Highland by an 18-10 margin in the fourth quarter.
“We are going to keep it interesting and compete,” Meleia Niemann said. “We just didn’t have the gumption to get over the hump. We are going to get somebody we aren’t supposed to one of these nights.”
“The girls are playing hard, but we ran out of steam down the stretch,” Coach Niemann said. “We are pretty young and inexperienced. I don’t sub too deep on my bench.”
Scotland County converted 14 field goals to Highland’s three. The Lady Cougars did a better job at the free throw line, sinking 13 of 19 tries. Scotland County was 8-17 on the night from the free throw line.
Lauren Merrell scored a game high 21 Highland points. Addy Johnson sat out key minutes in foul trouble. Johnson finished with seven points. Gabby Brown scored six points. Marissa Abell scored two and Ansley Bringer added one Highland point.
Hannah Feeney and Emiley Dial led Scotland County with 12 points each. Micah Cooley was in double figures with ten Tiger points. Katie Feeney added eight Scotland County points.
“They were teetering on being put away two or three times,” Scotland County coach Cory Shultz said. “They made a couple of tough shots. The hit threes and made their free throws down the stretch.”
“We fouled and put them on the free throw line late in the game,” Cory Shultz said. “They played two or three games. We didn’t play any over the break. We will take them any way we can get them.”
“Hard work pays off. (Emiley Dial) has been staying after practice and putting the work in. I thought she played really well tonight,” Cory Shultz said.