Sumter High School’s varsity boys basketball team now owns victories over both Lakewood and Crestwood this season after beating the Knights 53-42 in The Castle on Friday night.
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Sophomore forward Leslie Owens scored 10 points, and junior center Justus Boone added eight points, but it was a play by sophomore guard Joseph Durant late in the fourth quarter that sealed the victory for the Gamecocks.
Leading 47-42 with less than 90 seconds remaining, Durant dribbled into the paint and found senior Justshawn Andrews under the hoop for an easy basket to stop Crestwood’s run and push the lead to 49-42.
“That was probably the biggest play of the night right there,” said Sumter head coach Bryan Brown. “I think if we hadn’t made that play and they came down and made another one we could’ve been in trouble.”
The game didn’t seem in doubt until midway through the fourth quarter. Sumter built a big lead early, racing out to a 19-6 advantage, and a 29-14 lead at halftime.
The Knights trailed 39-27 heading into the fourth quarter, but answered with five quick points to open the quarter. Senior Sa’Vantae Parrot hit a big three-pointer to cut the lead 43-39 with just 4:30 remaining.
“I think the biggest thing was that we struggled scoring,” said Brown. “They hit some big shots down the stretch. We just have to score; we had some dry moments in our offense, and I think that’s why those shots really hurt us. We played a little better than the final score says.”
Sumter stretched the lead back to eight when junior forward Jaiven Lowery-Isaac grabbed an offensive rebound from a missed free throw and scored on a putback to put the Gamecocks ahead 47-39.
Crestwood’s Pollard then hit a three-pointer to cut the deficit to 47-42, and that’s when Durant made his clutch pass into Andrews to seal the victory.
“It’s big,” said Brown. “This game is important because it’s the first time we’ve played pretty good as a team. We’ve been working on some things, and we saw the guys come out today and execute and I’m just proud of my guys for playing and executing today.”
Sumter improved to 2-2 overall, while Crestwood fell to 0-4.
“My guys were extremely focused,” said Brown. “They played hard, and they were active the entire night.
The Gamecocks won’t have much time to celebrate their victory. Sumter hosts Lakewood on Saturday night in a rematch of last week’s game in the Schlotzky’s Thanksgiving Tip-Off that saw the Gamecocks pull out a 49-48 victory thanks to a Nakeem Isaac buzzer-beater. The girls game will tipoff at 6:00 p.m., and the boys game will follow.
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