When you're hot, you're hot, and when you're not, you're not.
Those old Jerry Reed song lyrics pretty much described Thursday's Region VI-5A varsity boys basketball game in a 68-53 Sumter win over South Florence at the SHS gymnasium.
SHS head …
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SHS head coach Shawn Jones can embrace that philosophy, as long as his team is playing good defense.
"When we hit shots, I don't think there's anybody that can beat us," Jones said. "When we've got the offense going, and those types of things. But it starts with defense. We have to defend. I've been telling my guys your best offense is defense."
Both teams came out of the locker room cold to start the game, with the Gamecocks clinging to an 11-8 after the opening eight minutes. Sumter then went on a 21-0 run that carried through the half and into the third quarter, taking a 34-16 lead back into the locker room at the half and leading by 30, 46-16, before the Bruins finally broke a nearly six-and-a-half minute dry spell.
The Gamecock lead was 55-23 late in the third quarter before South Florence went on a 17-0 run of its own, pulling within 15, 55-40, with 5:12 to go. The Bruins pulled within 13 at one point, but Sumter held on down the stretch for the win, improving to 10-7 overall and 2-1 in region play.
Jones said the low-post combo of Isaih Moore and Calvin Felder, with support from Jaylen Johnson, proved to be the catalyst for the Gamecocks' second-quarter offensive resurgence
"Our offense wasn't going (early). Defensively we did well," Jones said. "In the second quarter we started picking it up offensively. Isiah started hitting some shots, Jaylen hit a few shots. We started pounding it inside. That's what we want to do. Most of the teams aren't going to match up with Calvin and Isaih inside, so we want to try to pound it inside and then we start kicking it outside. That's pretty much our game plan."
As usual, Moore was a force in the paint with an impressive series of dunks but also connected on four 3-point shots, topping all scorers with 28 points. Felder closed with 16, while Johnson added nine, including a third-quarter 3-pointer.
Just when it seemed the game was totally out of reach late, SF's Justice Jackson went on a tear, hitting four of his six treys in the final period to pull the Bruins at least within striking distance. Jackson's 18 led all SF scorers, followed by 11 from Brian Sparks, who also hit a first-half three.
"We went into an offensive drought, just trying to get some different lineups and figure some things out," Jones said after the Bruins outscored Sumter 27-13 in the fourth quarter. "They're (South Florence) a young team, a well coached team. They're going to be pretty good. We just kind of stalled out in the third quarter, didn't have any offensive flow. Then they started hitting shots, contested shots. We were there, still pretty good defense, but we wanted to try to make those two guys put it on the floor."
In a rare back-to-back, the Gamecocks travel to Carolina Forest today, a situation that was dictated by the threat of winter weather on Wednesday.
"I like (playing back-to-back). As a coach you like it because it's almost like a practice," Jones said. "Guys are kind of warmed up. I don't know if Carolina Forest played back-to-back or not, but I think it would be to our advantage if they didn't."
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