PREP BASKETBALL

Sumter clinches region with 61-53 win over West Florence

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FLORENCE - The West Florence High School boys basketball team was not able to sustain the magic from Tuesday's upset of second-ranked Conway in overtime.

Against No. 6 Sumter on Thursday, an early 17-4 Gamecocks run was too much as coach Pete Ellis Knights' lost 61-53.

And because of that, SHS was able to win the Region VI-5A crown outright and earn the No. 1 seed from the region in the state playoffs. That secures Sumter two home games in the state playoffs, assuming it wins the opener on Wednesday.

"They hit a couple more 3s than us, it was tough for us to score inside," said Ellis, whose team is 13-11 overall and finished 4-6 in Region VI-5A. The Knights, who finished fourth in the region, start the state playoffs on Wednesday at a site to be determined.

"We had to be really creative. We were very disciplined with our approach, I thought we had composure," he added. "I felt we played harder than they did. But I just think their length and talent got to us. And free throws."

Sumter sank six of nine free throws during the final eight minutes.

West Florence, which attempted to rally from a 32-20 halftime deficit, got within 46-44 early in the fourth quarter with a Sharrod Simmon 3-pointer.

However, as the Gamecocks continued to do, they answered. Sumter stretched its lead with a 3-pointer by Tyree Smalls to make it 51-46.

"(Sumter) made a couple of big 3-pointers from the wing that squashed a couple of our runs," Ellis said. "That was kind of the difference in the game. They hit a couple more 3-pointers than us."

Sumter made nine 3-pointers for the game.

After Tyquez Eaddy banked in an inside shot to bring West within 55-52, the Gamecocks then pulled away for good.

The exclamation point happened when Sumter's' Isaih Moore slammed in a ball he himself lobbed off the backboard for the game's final points.

In similar fashion to Sumter's 61-52 win last week against South Florence, the Gamecocks were effective from the inside and outside.

While making four 3-pointers during the first eight minutes against West, Sumter mixed in a thundering, two-handed dunk by C.J. Felder. Felder finished with 10 points, and Moore added 19, followed by Smalls with 18.

"We tried to tighten it in a little bit, defensively, to counteract their size, and give them the 3 and see how they played," Ellis said. "But give them credit, they made their shots early."

Nonetheless, West kept hustling to get within 12 at halftime, and the Knights trailed 44-37 going into the fourth quarter.

Nick Stewart finished with 14 points for West, followed by Sabien Nero with 12 and Jarrod Woodland with 11.

"With this team, I have no complaints," Ellis said. "They've got tons of heart and grit. We've had two three-game losing streaks, and they were diving for balls in practice every day."