Sumter had commanded its game against Conway through three-plus quarters - a far cry from earlier in the month when the Tigers handed Sumter a 57-35 beating in Conway.
But the third-ranked Tigers kept hanging around with No. 6 Sumter and trailed …
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But the third-ranked Tigers kept hanging around with No. 6 Sumter and trailed by eight with over three minutes left.
Enter Tyree Smalls. Smalls crossed up a defender to the floor before drilling a 3-point basket, then forced a turnover on defense and knifed through the Conway defense for a layup to extend the lead to 13 on the way to a resounding 58-42 win at the SHS Gymnasium.
The two teams are now tied for the Region VI-5A lead at 6-1. If both teams win their remaining three games, Round 3 will be held at a third-party school to be determined.
"The first year I coached, we lost nine games and won the state championship," said SHS head coach Shawn Jones, whose team is 12-7. "It's just getting these guys to understand that it's five games in the playoffs, so you definitely want to be home and win the conference. Anything can happen."
Sumter led just 11-9 after one quarter, but was up 20-11 after a steal and layup from Smalls with 4-minutes, 40-seconds left in the second quarter. Smalls finished with 14 points and five assists.
Conway cut that lead down to 24-19 at half. The Tigers, however, could never get it to one possession as the Gamecocks had an answer every time they needed it - something that didn't happen two weeks ago.
"It was still ugly," said Jones with a smirk. "We just played with more energy. (Conway) didn't shoot the ball well - down there they made a lot of shots. Down there, they were getting penetration at will. We made an effort to just switch (defenders) everything to control the penetration."
Sumter led by as few as six in the final stanza, but Smalls' six points and five more from Croskey nearly equaled Conway's output of 12 fourth quarter points.
"I put a defensive group in there that I thought could turn Conway over," said Jones. "I always tell them that defense is easy offense. We got some turnovers and got some easy baskets."
Isaiah Moore had 12 points and eight rebounds for SHS, while Calvin Felder had 13 points and eight rebounds. Croskey ended with nine points.
Conway's top player Jimmy Nichols ended with 23 points and Tylekk Cooper had 10, but none of the other four scorers had more than three points.
Sumter is at West Florence on Friday.
Sumter 58, Conway 42
CHS - 9 10 11 12 - 42
SHS - 11 13 14 20 - 58
Grainger 3, Moody 2, Tylekk Cooper 10, Jimmy Nichols 23, Steele 2, Hemingway 2.
Jackson 2, Tyree Smalls 14, Isaiah Moore 12, Johnson 2, McCoy 2, Calvin Felder 13, Croskey 9, Durant 4.
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