Outside the arc, the junior guard found his spots, but couldn’t get the shot to drop.
“You want to make shots for your team and you keep throwing them up, hoping they’re going to fall but they keep bouncing out, bouncing out, bouncing out,” Johnson said. “Once they start falling, it just changes the momentum of the game.”
The shots seemingly started to fall when the Pirates needed it most, as Johnson hit three consecutive 3-pointers in the first minutes and a half of the fourth quarter to give Lumberton a crucial scoring break early in the half.
It started a 14-2 run for Lumberton, which included a fourth 3-pointer by Montrae Strother and two free throws from Johnson to give LHS a 54-43 lead with 5:42 left. The Pirates held the lead the rest of the way, capping a comeback win in which Scotland led by as many as 15 points in the second quarter.
“You can see there weren’t many fans here today and we kind of came in at the beginning of the game and didn’t give it a very good effort,” Lumberton coach Mackie Register said. “During halftime Montrae Strother got the intensity pushed up a bit and then we got a spark from Colby Johnson.”
The first half was what Register called “the second worst half we’ve had this season.” Lumberton scored the first points of the game and eventually held a 4-2 lead a minute in, but spent the rest of the half struggling both on the boards and, in many instances, to hit layups under the baskets.
Scotland took advantage of it, running the floor for fastbreak points. The Fighting Scots got the lead up to 17-9 by the end of the first quarter, then opened the second with a 7-0 run to make it 24-9.
Strother and Demetri Sheridan finished 3-point plays as part of a balanced scoring second quarter that narrowed Scotland’s lead to 30-21 by halftime. After halftime, Lumberton played stronger on both sides of the ball, scoring 19 points in the third quarter and 21 in the fourth.
The Pirates opened the second half with a 13 point run, started by layups from Jez Deese, Austin Revels and Sheridan. Strother then tied hit a fastbreak layup, on which he took a foul. He hit the ensuing free throw to tie it 30-30 with 4:13 left in the third. Vijay Hicks and Travis Suggs had points to get the lead as high as 34-30 before Tyricus Love scored Scotland’s first points of the half with 3:17 left.
Scotland scored the final three points of the quarter to take a 41-40 lead into the fourth. Johnson and Sheridan led Lumberton with 13 points each and Strother had 12. Nine LHS players scored in the game. Tyrone Jones led Scotland with 12 points and Artemus Robinson and Aly Kaba had 10 each.
The win sends Lumberton to No. 1 Hoke Wednesday night for the tournament semifinals.
Purnell Swett's season ended at Pinecrest in the other SEC quarterfinal, 61-48. The Rams finished 3-19 after making the postseason last year.
St. Pauls girls, Red Springs move on
FAIRMONT — St. Pauls' girls basketball team avoided a quarterfinal upset in the Three Rivers Conference Tournament Monday night with a 43-33 win over West Columbus.
In the nightcap, Red Springs outlasted Fairmont, 41-38, behind a pair of key baskets in the final two minutes from Shantana Norris.