Scott’s 35 points not enough to lift Falcons over Wilson

Tamra Scott

FISHERSVILLE – It was a game that fittingly summed up the season for Central High School’s girls basketball team, a group that struggled with inconsistencies throughout the last three months.

Knowing that his squad could capitalize on what he thought was a size advantage over Wilson Memorial in Friday’s Region 2A East tournament first-round game, Falcons head coach Bryan Scott felt Central needed to operate through his daughter Tamra, a senior forward and a career 1,000-point scorer. For 16 minutes the Falcons played some of their best basketball of the season as Tamra Scott erupted for 27 first-half points on the way to a career-high 35, an effort that sent Central into halftime leading the Hornets by four.

Then things unraveled. Central, which shot 60 percent in the first half, mustered only 14 points over the final two periods and Wilson Memorial scored 24 of the game’s final 30 points en route to a 70-53 win that sent the Hornets into next week’s regional quarterfinal game against Nottoway

“I told the girls at halftime … that that was probably the best basketball we’d played all year,” said Bryan Scott while fighting back tears shortly after his team’s season came to an end. “And I knew that. I’ve watched Wilson. I knew they were a good team. I knew they could shoot the ball, and that was the effort that I needed from my girls was that first-half effort. And I especially challenged Tamra, and she stepped up. That’s by far the best game she’s ever played.

“I think we went away from her in the second half. She had 15 shot attempts in the first half. I think she only ended up with eight in that second half. And then we started doing the things we’ve been doing all season – not taking care of the ball.”

Poor ball security plagued Central (13-11) all night – the Falcons turned the ball over 22 times in the loss while Wilson Memorial (18-8) tallied 15 steals – but the Falcons mitigated those miscues in the first half by consistently feeding Tamra Scott in the paint.

The senior hit 12 of 14 shot attempts in a back-and-forth first half that saw Central take a 39-35 lead into the break.

“We knew going in that we had a big height advantage,” said Tamra, who added seven rebounds to go along with her 35 points. “Dad just told them that the only way we were gonna win this thing is to work inside out, which like always if they double-team me I’m gonna kick it back out. I don’t know, my shots started falling the entire time and they didn’t stop giving it to me, so it worked.”

A combination of Wilson’s switch to a 2-3 zone and the lack of a sufficient perimeter offense knocked Central out of that efficient formula in the second half. The Falcons, who scored 46 of their 53 points in the paint, shot just 25 percent in the second half (7-for-28) after hitting nine field goals in each of the first two periods.

“I think that the girls noticed that they started to triple-team me and double-team me down low so they stopped feeding me the ball as much,” Tamra said. “I think that really killed us. That’s how we work is inside out. … I think we just fell away from working inside.”

Despite their struggles in the second half the Falcons maintained their slim lead throughout the third period. The Hornets did cut the deficit to a point twice in the frame, including on Sam Kershner’s wide-open 3-pointer from the corner in transition that pulled Wilson within 45-44 with 1:30 left in the third period, a defensive breakdown that forced Bryan Scott to use a timeout.

“Steals and layups always get us going and Sam hit a 3 that I think really – I could see in their eyes that OK, we can do something here,” said Hornets head coach Jackie Bryan, whose team has won 10 of its last 12. “Then they just kicked it into gear and it was the team that I’ve been coaching for the last half of the season.”

Wilson Memorial’s Scottie Hull hit a jumper from the wing with 7:40 to play that gave the Hornets a 48-47 lead, their first since the six-minute mark of the second period. Central turned the ball over on four of their first five possessions of the final quarter and didn’t score a point in the fourth until Ayanna Strother found Tamra Scott for a bucket that pulled the Falcons within 55-49 with 4:14 left.

“I think they stepped that defense up a little,” said Bryan Scott, whose team turned the ball over 10 times in the second half and seven times in the fourth quarter. “I think they went zone, mixed in a little bit of man. My point guards didn’t take care of the ball. I think they stepped up that defensive intensity, making it hard, that entry pass in to Tamra. But we missed a lot of layups in that second half.”

Tamra Scott’s driving runner with 3:40 to play pulled Central within four but the Hornets – who hit 17 of 21 free throws in the win – closed the game with a 15-2 run.

Wilson Memorial’s trio of double-figure scorers – Cheridan Hatfield (18 points, 12 rebounds, seven steals), Bailey Cullen (15 points, eight rebounds) and Sarah Sondrol (12 points, 12 rebounds) – combined for 18 points and 17 rebounds for the Hornets in the fourth period.

Strother finished with 8 points, eight assists and three steals for Central, while Madison Nichols had 6 points and Maria Marston and Tycara Scott two apiece. Kendall Herbaugh had seven rebounds.

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com