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Scots ruin Senior Night at Lee County

Jan. 23—Lee County had a big crowd out for Senior Night basketball Friday against Scotland County, and while the night didn't turn out well for either local team, the Lady Jackets did keep an upset win within sight for most of the game.

The Scotland women are currently tied with Richmond atop the conference standings, and expected an easy win against a Lee County team that has been up and down all season. The Lady Scots did score the 64-53 victory and improve to 5-0 in Sandhills Athletic Conference play, but only after an 11-2 run late in the contest decided it.

Unfortunately, those who stuck around for the men's game after the seniors on both teams and the cheerleaders were honored didn't see a good nightcap. Scotland ran out to an 18-0 lead in the opening six minutes of the first quarter and was never challenged after that, as the Fighting Scots cruised to a 65-37 victory.

Any suspense from the night's action came in the Lady Jackets' game. Scotland came in needing to keep pace with rival Richmond atop the league, but Lee County came to compete even though leading scorer Kelyce McSwain picked up two quick fouls early on. When Kaleah Cotton stole the ball right before the end of the opening period, raced to a corner and nailed a 3-pointer, the home team led 14-13 at the end of the first.

Lee kept holding the visitors to the fire in the second quarter, as Gillian Garrison went off. The Lady Scots (12-1, 5-0 SAC) are used to being tormented by Garrison on a soccer pitch, but she hit four shots to go along with five rebounds and three steals, giving her 12 points for the first half and keeping Lee right with Scotland throughout the quarter. A late free throw from the Scots left them in front 28-27 as the half ended.

Scotland tried to pull away as the third quarter got under way, but a 7-0 run sparked by Garrison and McSwain put the Lady Jackets up three midway through the quarter. Scotland answered with a 10-2 run, but Lee had the last word, tying the game again on a 3-pointer from Cherish Smith and a steal and short jumper from Lily Currin. The teams went to the fourth tied at 41.

Two exchanges of baskets made it 45-all with 5:44 to play. The Lady Scots finally made a run that Lee couldn't answer, outscoring them 11-2 over the next three minutes to lead 56-47. McSwain got inside and hit two free throws, and Garrison went coast-to-coast for a score, but in between those plays, Lee had failed to convert after a steal. It was a five-point game, but as time ticked down near a minute left, the Lady Jackets were forced to foul, and Scotland pulled away for good.

Garrison led the Lady Jackets with 20 points, and McSwain tallied 11. Cotton had nine and Currin seven. For Scotland, Morgan Thompson had 24 and Alicia McLain 21. Seniors McSwain, Currin, Lanaysha McIver and Garrison were honored following the game.

In the men's game, seniors Isaiah Peoples, Devon Epps, Ethan Blanchard and Isaiah Epps were recognized between games. However, only three Jackets scored in the game. Kamaree Butler led the team with 17, while Ronnie Hooker and Nic Farrow each had 10.

Cheerleaders Angelise Garcia, Janae McLean, Emily Ingraham and Jayla Simmons were also among the seniors honored between the varsity games.

Lee County returns to action tonight at Southern Lee.