Gaffney topples Rock Hill in first round of boys' AAAA basketball playoffs

The (Spartanburg) Herald-JournalFebruary 19, 2009 

GAFFNEY -- It was difficult to decipher whether the cameras present in Gaffney on Wednesday evening were documenting the on-court action or filming a commercial for an energy drink.

Either way, you'd be likely to find a couple of empty cans of the energy drink in forward Jeff Brown's backpack following Gaffney's 84-69 victory over Rock Hill in a first-round Class AAAA Upper State playoff game.

"That's what we want to do," Gaffney coach Mark Huff said. "We want to press and get people running up and down the floor and be very active."

Brown was an inch higher on the boards and a step faster in the lane than anybody else on the court as his non-stop motor stimulated a highly aggressive Gaffney attack on both ends.

"I think Gaffney's a very good basketball team and the things that they run, they run well," Rock Hill coach Bobby Stevens said. "They've got good perimeter shooters and kids that battle inside."

"He ran the floor for us and was an inside presence," teammate Josh Corry said. "He really did his job tonight."

The silky smooth Corry took care of business as well, scoring 21 points to pair with Brown's 18 in providing the bulk of the scoring.

Rock Hill's last lead was 4-3 and although the final margin signified a big-time Gaffney blowout, the resilient Bearcats made things very interesting early in the second half.

"We had a lot of good things happen to us," Stevens said. "Our sophomore, Matt Harvey, had four or five dunks which he hasn't had that many all year. We were encouraged by his play and most of our kids were juniors who played there at the end so that was encouraging as well."

Brown and Corry each had eight first quarter points and the Indians forced six turnovers to lead by as many as 13, but Rock Hill whittled it down to a six-point margin at the break and then got even closer.

The Bearcats hit three 3-pointers in the opening 3:50 of the third quarter, with Jatavius Stewart's consecutive pair from long range tying the game at 42. Gaffney answered with a 10-0 run with five different players scoring and entered the fourth quarter with a nine-point advantage.

"We had to step up our game," Brown said. "They couldn't run with us early on, but then they really got back into it."

"We just wanted to keep the pressure on and keep pushing the ball down the floor and we felt like in the fourth quarter we'd pull away," Huff said.

The pace did finally overtake Rock Hill for good after getting back within five with seven minutes remaining as a 15-6 Gaffney spurt pushed its lead to 69-55. The Indians proved just as effective in stationary mode, hitting 10 of 12 free throw attempts in the final quarter to hold the comfortable lead.

Stewart led all scorers with 23 points. Chase Smith added 11 and Ivan Vernon had nine for Gaffney.

Rock Hill 13 18 14 23 -- 69

Gaffney 22 15 17 28 -- 84

Gaffney 84

Rock Hill 69

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