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Air Force will look for rebound from Lavelle Scottie and Pervis Louder as nonconference slate closes

December 21, 2017 Updated: December 21, 2017 at 4:56 pm
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LEFT: Air Force guard Pervis Louder drives toward the basketball past MCPherson College guard Chris Cook Friday, Nov. 11, 2016, during the first half at Clune Arena on Air Force Academy. (Christian Murdock, The Gazette) RIGHT: Air Force forward Lavelle Scottie controls the ball. Air Force was defeated by Nevada 79-58 at the Air Force Academy on Wednesday, February 15, 2017. (Jerilee Bennett, The Gazette)

Air Force’s bumpy ride through the nonconference season has shown the importance of the duo of Lavelle Scottie and Pervis Louder.

When this combo has combined for 18 or more points, the Falcons are 4-1.

When they haven’t, the Falcons are 1-5.

Problem is, there also haven’t been two more inconsistent performers.

“We need Lavelle. We need Pervis,” coach Dave Pilipovich said. “We need those guys to give us more, and we’ll continue to work with them and get that.”

Louder averaged 13 points over a three-game stretch against Indiana State, Denver and Western State, making 14 of 19 shots. He has followed that with four total points over three games, shooting 2 of 19.

Scottie, whose 99 field-goal attempts trails only Ryan Manning’s 104 on the team, switched positions from center to an attacking forward spot this year to mixed results. In his best five games he has averaged 17.4 points and has looked the part the Falcons want him to play. But he also went scoreless in a loss to Army in New York and over the other six games is averaging just 4.2 points on 8-of-40 shooting.

The two have combined for just four points over the past two games, and Air Force has been soundly beaten in both.

Scottie, a sophomore, and Louder, a junior, each started slow in a game against Western State in which the Falcons fell behind by 23 points at home to the Division II opponent. But they combined for 42 points as Air Force roared back for a victory.

That best illustrates what this team is capable of when getting strong contributions from the pair and how it can founder when it doesn't.

“We’ve had some players who played well early in the season who haven’t played as well of late,” said Pilipovich, whose team has the final tuneup of the nonconference schedule as NAIA Johnson & Wales (0-15) visits Clune Arena at 2 p.m. Friday. “It’s scouting reports now. Early on, it was new.”

The hope for the Falcons, who started 3-0 before dropping six of eight, is undoubtedly that Scottie and Louder will close on a high note against lesser competition and carry that into the Dec. 27 Mountain West opener at New Mexico.

Depending on which ratings index you look at, Air Force is ranked about 320th in the nation. They’ll face seven teams in the conference rated among the top 134. It could be a long Mountain West season. But if Scottie and Louder get right, it will be a lot less bumpy.

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