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Roundup: Graham powers Scotland past Lee County on senior night | Laurinburg Exchange



LAURINBURG — The Scotland Fighting Scots basketball team didn’t have much trouble with the Lee County Yellow Jackets on senior night, defeating them 64-41.

Take Johnathon Graham out of the equation, and the game goes to overtime with fewer rebounds on the stat sheet for Scotland.

Graham’s monster double-double of 23 points and 23 rebounds powered Scotland to its first win in its last three games Tuesday night.

“It was just me trying to show off for my family, and I had people here,” Graham said. “I don’t really look to score; I just look to play defense. I like playing defense. I’m not really a big scorer. That’s why I just ditch out to the players mostly.”

”I mean, 23 rebounds and 23 points is pretty special, maybe a school record,” Scotland coach Michael Malpass said. “I’m the hardest on Johnathon of anybody on this team. And he takes it like a trooper and is tough. If you ever came to a practice, you would hear his name more than you heard anybody else’s. So, it’s nice to see him respond. But he’s our only big guy, so he’s got to play big. And he did tonight.”

Graham was one of three seniors for Scotland’s men’s basketball who were honored before the game, along with Jaiquez Caldwell and Dylan Lampley.

“Jaiquez Caldwell has been with me the longest,” Malpass said. “He’s been with me three years. So that’s awesome. And he’s been a part of a rebuild conference championship.

“Johnathon’s been with me two years; he was on JV for two, and then he’s played varsity two traditional years and just really grown this year. And last year, kind of could hide in the shadows because of the firepower we had.

“And then, Dylan coming over was a godsend because if we don’t have Dylan, we would be in trouble. So, Dylan’s been here this year and really led well and shared the ball.”

Scotland (9-14, 4-7 Sandhills Athletic Conference) and Lee County (6-16, 2-9 SAC) went through a tight first quarter, with neither team leading by more than two points until a 3-pointer at the buzzer by Nic Farrow gave the Yellow Jackets a 14-11 lead.

Coming out of a timeout with 5:53 to go in the half with the Fighting Scots ahead 17-16, Graham actuated a 13-0 run with a free throw, adding four more points of his own during the streak.

“I think we were driving; even though we were missing … John (Graham) was there to clean the ball up a lot tonight,” Scotland’s Dylan Lampley said. “That’s one of his best games I’ve ever seen him play while he was on my team.”

While Lee County’s Isaiah Peoples hit a free throw and Ronnie Hooker hit a layup to end the scoring surge, Lampley made two free throws on individual possessions, and Brady Fowler contributed another for a 33-19 Scotland lead at halftime.

“It was mostly the talking on defense that helped us keep them out the paint and a lot of crashing from the forwards,” Graham said. “That’s what we’ve been working on all week.”

Lee County closened its gap to 35-23 with 6:32 left in the third, but the Scots scored 10 consecutive points and went back up 45-23; Scotland led 50-31 after the frame.

Scotland took its largest lead of 60-36 with 2:47 remaining; after Lee County’s Braden Elder connected on a 3-point shot from the left corner, Graham made back-to-back buckets in the paint before Kamaree Butler, who led Lee County with 14 points, made a layup with 43 seconds to go for the final points of the evening.

“I thought Lee County, and we told them this, would pack it up if we built a lead, and I think they did,” Malpass said.

Along with Graham’s scoring production, Lampley had 11 points and Caldwell and Jerrison Dixon added 10 points each for the Scots.

Scotland’s senior cheerleaders and basketball players weren’t the only ones recognized Tuesday, as Scotland assistant men’s basketball coach Chandler Herndon also was for his fight with cerebral palsy.

National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month is in March, but with no guarantee for Scotland’s men to host another game this season, the team wanted to do something special for Herndon while they knew they could.

Players and coaches wore green ribbons — the symbol for cerebral palsy awareness — and green socks against Lee County.

”I didn’t have no clue, man,” Herndon said. “I’m the guy that’s trying to get us ready for this game, and I noticed that there was a lot of green. I was like, we don’t wear green. What is going on? And I said something to the coaches; I’m like, ‘Why they got on these green socks?’ And nobody said a word. I was like, they must didn’t hear what I said. But I was shocked. I love these guys, and it’s just good to be a part of a team.”

Seeing his team’s seniors walk away from possibly their last home game with a victory meant more to Herndon, though.

“We wanted to win for the seniors, most importantly,” Herndon said. “We did a great job attacking the basket, making it difficult on them and taking good shots and everybody getting involved offensively, just spreading the wealth. It’s always good to get a win, especially, it could be our last home game. So, getting a good win and a big win, too; a lot of good stuff tonight. We really challenged the guys to bring it tonight because we knew they were going to bring effort, especially early. And I’m just proud of the effort and intensity we brought.”

Scotland, which is fifth in the SAC, takes on first-place rival Richmond in its regular-season finale in Rockingham on Friday.

Lady Scots erase early deficit, edge Lee County

After getting behind by 15 points in the second quarter, the Scotland women’s basketball team did what it’s done 19 times this season — win.

The Lady Scots escaped with a 47-44 victory Tuesday night against the visiting Lee County Yellow Jackets in Laurinburg.

”It was just bad,” Scotland coach Roshien McClain said on his team’s first-half performance. “I mean, we couldn’t make nothing. They (the Yellow Jackets) made everything. They got every call. They got every loose ball. They got everything. I know that my group is in better shape, so we’re able to go the long haul and keep working and keep doing what we need to do to get back into a game.”

Morgan Thompson’s runner 45 seconds after the second half started made the score 27-26 with Scotland (19-2, 10-1 Sandhills Athletic Conference) trailing; Lee County (9-10, 5-6 SAC) ensued with six straight points, but a 9-0 run by the Lady Scots put them in front 35-33 before Kaleah Cotton’s deep 3-point shot as the third quarter expired gave the Yellow Jackets the lead back at 36-35.

“They just made shots,” McClain said on Lee County. “We already played them. Most of them girls been there since I first started. So we know what they can do. (Cotton’s) going to shoot the deep 3. (Gillian Garrison) is going to play hard; she’s going to shoot the 3. They’re going to throw it inside to (Kelyce McSwain). But the key is getting her out the game. Get her out the game, now the lane opens up. You can get more dribble-drive penetration.”

”It’s all about the third quarter,” Scotland’s Nyasia McQueen said. “When our Coach came in, he basically told us what he was going to do. We started off small. We started off short, slow, and we just had to pick it up. It’s senior night; you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.”

McSwain made two foul shots under 30 seconds into the fourth to extend Lee County’s lead, but Scotland regained the lead it never lost with an 8-0 run to go up 43-38. McSwain made a putback to try and give the Yellow Jackets life, but the Lady Scots went up 47-40, with a 3-and-1 from Cotton with 0.7 remaining, making the final score seem closer.

In the final minute, McQueen took two charges that gave Lee County two turnovers — which likely could have been the difference between a win and a loss.

“When Coach talked to me and told me start taking charges, I just didn’t fall back. And I mean, he said a charge. So, I just kept going on,” McQueen said.

Thompson led Scotland with 18 points; Alicia McClain scored 14 and Madysan Hammonds had nine.

Cotton finished with 15 points, and McSwain scored 10 for Lee County.

A runner and a trey from Madison Dixon put Scotland in a 5-2 advantage early, but Lee County rumbled on a 14-0 sprint and led 16-5 after one quarter played.

“I just told them, keep their heads up, keep it going,” McQueen said. “Because, I mean, the game ain’t over. We’ve got till the fourth quarter, and we just in the first. So, the game ain’t over.”

Scotland’s deficit became 24-9 with 5:26 until halftime. But Alicia McClain’s 3 kickstarted a 15-3 run, led by eight points from Thompson, which helped the Lady Scots get to the halftime break down only 27-24.

“It wasn’t like we weren’t getting looks,” Roshien McClain said. “We were getting looks, and they (the Yellow Jackets) were just making everything. But once we got into a rhythm, you could see them getting frustrated.”

Once the game was over, the Lady Scots’ seniors — McQueen and Hammonds — were recognized, along with senior cheerleaders and Scotland’s men’s basketball players.

“(Madysan) didn’t tonight, but other games, hitting 3s and just being another person who understands the game, has been great for us,” Roshien McClain said. “Nyasia … took two charges at the end. You just can’t dislodge people no more. She took them right on the chin, fell and took them like we told her to do. But she’s been great. She’s a vocal leader. She’s sometimes a bully, too. She’s a good kid. Both of them are good kids. Both of them have been around for three years with me. So I really enjoy both of them, and let’s keep this train rolling.”

Scotland, which is second in the SAC, will look to keep it going in its final regular-season game Friday at Richmond — the conference’s first-place team at 11-0; if the Lady Scots win, they’ll earn a share of the conference title, but the Raiders would get it outright if they win.

Brandon Hodge is the sports editor for The Laurinburg Exchange. He can be reached at 910-506-3171 or by email at [email protected]. Follow him on X/Twitter at @BrandonHSports.

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