Jeff Schaffer's return to the bench as interim head coach of the Sumter High School girls basketball program saw a spirited effort from the Lady Gamecocks but one that came up just short of victory as visiting Hartsville rallied for a 48-45 …
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Jeff Schaffer's return to the bench as interim head coach of the Sumter High School girls basketball program saw a spirited effort from the Lady Gamecocks but one that came up just short of victory as visiting Hartsville rallied for a 48-45 win.
"It actually feels pretty good, to be honest with you," Schaffer said of returning to coach the girls for the first time since a 2002-08 run as head coach.
"It's exciting when teams play hard like that, and it's good to get back out there. They played hard. Our fundamentals are what killed us. Fundamentally, we're not very sound, but once we get the fundamentals in we're athletic enough that I think we're going to cause problems for people. But right now it's a fight to get the fundamentals where they need to be to win games like this."
The Lady Gamecocks had their moments against the Lady Foxes, including an 8-0 run that carried over into the second quarter as Sumter built a 14-8 lead. However, Hartsville answered with a 7-0 run to retake the lead, 15-14, in a first half that saw four ties before the Lady Foxes took a 23-21 lead into the break.
Schaffer was visibly upset over shot selection and not looking for the open player on a few occasions early in the second half, even after calling a timeout after back-to-back threes from Tarewyn Dawson and Myesha Huggins gave Hartsville its largest lead of the night, 29-21.
The message seemed to sink in shortly after as a 14-4 rally put the Lady Gamecocks back in front, 35-33, with the go-ahead basket coming on a fast-break layup from Carnasia Wells. Sumter led by three, 38-35, heading to the final quarter and held a 4-point lead, 41-37, after Tamerah Brown scored off a reverse move down low with 5:49 to go.
Hartsville tied the score at 41-41 after two Taleyah Stephens free throws and the Lady Gamecocks drew even one last time, 43-43, with a Layken Cox follow at the 2:31 mark. Sumter trailed 47-45 coming out of a timeout with 16 seconds left and got the ball back as Brown came up with a steal of a Hartsville inbound pass.
Brown drove for a layup but came up short with nine seconds on the clock. Dawson went to the line and made the first of two shots to stretch the lead to three with just over five seconds left.
Wells inbounded for the Lady Gamecocks, who came away with misses from Brown and Cox, both within 2-point range when a trey was needed to tie.
"A lot of what we did that was mistake-prone was trying to do too much on our own, instead of within the team concept," Schaffer said. "When they did that, they kind of got out of sync a little bit. Then, when we started doing what we were supposed to do, good things started happening for us. Again, that goes back to kind of being fundamentally sound and disciplined. You have to be a little bit self-disciplined in tight games."
Schaffer called working with assistant coach Chris Vandevander, who succeeded Schaffer after the end of his first tenure, a "full circle" experience.
"It's been great for me, because she and I think so much alike," Schaffer said. "It's kind of ironic, too, because when I used to coach at Hudgens years ago she took my spot at Hudgens, and then when I came to Sumter High and I left she took my spot here. So we've kind of come full circle and we're back on the bench together. It's very good because there are things that she sees that I don't see, and vice versa. It works really well. It's a good combination."
Brown led Sumter with 12 points, with Wells adding 10 and Cox closing with nine.
Dawson and SaQuita Joyner scored 13 apiece to top the Lady Foxes.
Sumter's varsity teams host Lakewood on Thursday and are joined by the junior varsity teams on Saturday as Crestwood visits the SHS gymnasium
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