LAURINBURG — With 6 1/2 minutes remaining in the game, the Temple Christian girls basketball team was in an unusual position — tied with its opponent.
The Tigers scored the next six points and turned back a late rally by Scotland Christian to pull out a 52-47 victory Tuesday afternoon.
The win kept Temple Christian undefeated in 12 games and more importantly allowed the Tigers to clinch the Carolina Christian Athletic Association’s regular season championship.
“That is good we are going to get the first-round bye in the tournament,” coach Broderick Hair said. “We can come watch some teams play before we do, which is unusual here. Now we can focus on achieving our second goal…win the conference tournament.”
The chance to turn their attention to the CCAA tournament nearly didn’t occur for the Tigers as they were locked in a dogfight with the Saints. After leading by one at halftime, Temple Christian was only able to build a six-point margin in the second half.
“I think they came ready to play,” said Claire Jordan. “They gave their all today and we only beat them by three the first time we played them.”
Hair added it isn’t surprising the teams were involved in two close games this season because it adds to the Richmond County-Scotland County rivalry.
“I guess it’s just the Richmond-Scotland disdain for each other,” Hair laughingly said. “It’s always been that way since I was a kid and I’m from Scotland. They have been a thorn in our side every year we’ve played them.”
Jordan led the way for the Tigers with a game-high 28 points and added 13 rebounds. She scored 10 of the team’s 12 points in the fourth quarter, including the last four.
After Scotland Christian trimmed the lead to 48-45 with 2:26 left, Jordan scored on a putback to extend the advantage to two possessions. Following two free throws by the Saints, Jordan iced the game with another rebound and a basket with five seconds remaining.
“If it wasn’t for her tonight…who knows what could have happened,” Hair said.
Charis Byrd was the only other Tiger to score double figures with 14 points. Joanna Gould only netted two, but had 11 rebounds in the win.
Temple Christian will return to the court 5:30 p.m. Friday when it visits Grace Christian School in Loris, S.C.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson may be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14 or on Twitter @scgolfer.