Larry Davis’ Northwestern Trojans boys basketball team held off a valiant charge by the Wade Hampton Generals Thursday night with a 66-64 win to advance to a Saturday second-round matchup with Irmo in the Class AAAA state tournament.
The Trojans’ 66-64 win looked like a surefire result in the second quarter when the hosts were too experienced, too bouncy, too much of any adjective for the visiting Generals. Wade Hampton, with only one senior on the roster, didn’t seem bothered, though, and charged headlong back into the contest with a 16-2 third-quarter run. Northwestern kept its nerve in the game’s latest stages to pull out the win.
Davis wasn’t thrilled with his team for coughing up a 13-point halftime lead, which inflated to as much as 16 in the second half, but he was happy to get the win and advance. That’s all it’s about this time of year.
“We made some mistakes. We got a little lax with the ball, started doing things that are a little uncharacteristic of how we play,” said Davis. “We just lost focus, and in games like this, in the playoffs, you can’t lose focus. Hopefully, we’ll learn something from this game and move on.”
Clenzo Ross epitomized Northwestern’s athleticism advantage, scoring 19 points to lead the Trojans, a sum that included several big slams that livened up the crowd. Will Chitwood hit four 3-pointers and scored 14 points, while Manzi Hill and Quadarius Fair added 10 each. The balanced scoring has been a consistent feature of Northwestern’s play this season.
“Our offense is the best when we work unselfishly,” said Chitwood, who was on the end of a number of extra passes for open shots. “Tonight, we were working unselfishly.”
A quick start to the second half saw Northwestern push its halftime lead out to 42-26. Hill broke away for a run-out slam, before canning a 3 when left open to stretch the Trojan lead. That prompted Hampton’s 16-2 run, and 6-foot-8 Jalen Williams’ seal inside made it 44-42 with about 2 minutes left in the third quarter.
From there, it was tight. The Trojans still should have been fine when Ross hit one of two free throws to make it 65-60 with 26 seconds left. But Cameron Allen knocked down two foul shots at the other end, and the Trojans double-dribbled to give the ball back to the visitors with the score 65-62. Incredibly, Matt Williams’ potential game-tying 3-pointer did a trip around the rim and out. Jalen Williams followed the miss for a bucket with 1.8 seconds left, but it ultimately proved too late for the young Generals, and the Trojans marched on.
Northwestern 66, Wade Hampton 64
WADE HAMPTON 64 Preston Parks 20, Cameron Allen 16, Michael Wiper 6, Jaylen Eichelberger 2, Matt Williams 6, Jalen Williams 14; NORTHWESTERN 66 Malcolm Anthony 6, Dewayne Hemphill 3, Manzi Hill 10, Clenzo Ross 19, Quadarius Fair 10, Will Chitwood 15, Tracus Chisholm 3.
Team fouls: Wade Hampton 20; Northwestern 15; Foul shooting: Wade Hampton 15-18; Northwestern 19-26; 3-point shooting: Wade Hampton 7 (Parks 6, Allen); Northwestern 7 (Chitwood 4, Chisholm, Hemphill, Hill); Records: Wade Hampton 15-8; Northwestern 21-5.
Shots don’t fall for Trojans in first-round loss: Northwestern girls’ basketball beat Spartanburg in the Carolina Classic tournament in Charleston on Dec. 28. In the teams’ rematch in the first round of the Class AAAA girls’ state playoffs on Thursday, the Trojans didn’t hit shots, so they didn’t win and advance to Saturday’s second round.
“When we played them the other time we made shots and they didn’t,” said Northwestern coach John Bramlett, about his team’s 48-44 loss. “They had some girls that made some shots in, what was it, a four-point ball game? We played with great effort in the second half, but you get to this point in the season you’ve got to make some shots.”
Spartanburg coach Sharon Dillon’s team ran the same zone defense at the Trojans, an attempt to negate Northwestern’s glaring height advantage, and it appeared to fluster the hosts early when they fell behind 13-6 after the first quarter.
“It was our plan,” Dillon said about the compact zone defense. “I told them not to come outside that 3-point line.”
Victoria Dawkins gathered in the opening tip and raced in for a layup with barely five ticks off the clock, indicative of Spartanburg’s start. They were lively and active in their zone defense, which flustered the Trojans in the first half. Twelve of their 21 points came from beyond the arc as the Vikings dared the hosts to venture into 2-point range, and then collapsed on the ball with multiple defenders when it did approach the basket.
Northwestern fell behind by as much as 11 points in the third quarter but sliced the deficit to as little as four on three occasions. Spartanburg freshman Deana Mims, who led Dillon’s team with 22 points, came through in the clutch for the Vikings, knocking in three jumpers from around the foul line, apparently her sweet spot, to repulse the Trojan comeback. Spartanburg advanced to a second-round matchup with Irmo on Saturday in the second round.
Spartanburg 48, Northwestern 44
SPARTANBURG 48 Shi Copeland 5, Kionna Jeter 13, Deana Mims 22, Victoria Dawkins 3, Alexis Jeter 7; NORTHWESTERN 44 Ieshia Love 13, Aubriana Thompson 12, Brianna Lewis 2, Tiana Lewter 3, Paige Samuelson 6, Lauren Reese 2, Alexis Loney 6.
Team fouls: Spartanburg 14; Northwestern 14; Foul shooting: Spartanburg 9-13; Northwestern 4-9; 3-point shooting: Spartanburg 1 (Copeland); Northwestern 4 (Love 3, Thompson); Records: Spartanburg 17-7; Northwestern 17-8
Bret McCormick • 803-329-4032; Twitter: @BretJust1T