Nation Ford’s Zeb Graham and Malik Bryant took over the fourth quarter of the teams’s third round game against the Wade Hampton Generals in the 5A state boys basketball playoffs, but the rally was just a little too late.
In a match-up of two of the top teams in the state, third-ranked Wade Hampton beat the No. 6 Nation Ford Falcons 61-59 on a put back with 1.5 seconds left in the game.
Graham scored 11 of his 18 points in the fourth and Bryant scored 10 of his 21 points in the quarter as well. Nation Ford had not led until there were 49 seconds left in the game and the Falcons went up 59-57. The Generals tied things up shortly after that before grabbing the win.
“Those two guys have the capability to make plays,” Nation Ford head coach Jared Adamson said.
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The Generals (21-2) outpaced Nation Ford (18-7) from the opening tip as the Falcons could never seem to find a rhythm after Wade Hampton slowed down their normally fast-paced style of play.
“We just kept preaching to them to stick to the game plan,” Adamson said. “Our guys worked hard. I am proud of their effort. We just have to remember how this feels and use it as motivation next year.”
Nation Ford finally found its rhythm and pulled within 10 points at 48-38 with seven minutes to go in the game. The Falcons continued to cut into the Generals’ lead some, but Wade Hampton seemed to have an answer nearly on ever other possession.
Nation Ford outscored Wade Hampton 25-15 in the fourth quarter, shooting 80 percent from the field in the quarter, their best percentage of the game.
Wade Hampton started the second half on an 8-2 run to go up 40-24 as Nation Ford turned the ball over several times in the first couple minutes of the third quarter. Nation Ford was able to keep a lot of pressure on the Generals, but Wade Hampton was methodical in looking for the best shot possible. Wade Hampton kept Nation Ford off balance as the Falcons didn’t have an answer for the Generals’ 3-point shooting.
The Falcons started off slow and were down early 9-0 in the first quarter of the game and never seemed to be able to catch back up. Wade Hampton kept them off balance with a strong inside presence, while also staying hot from beyond the 3-point line.
Trailing by seven after the first quarter at 18-11, Nation Ford struggled even more in the second as Khydarius Smith and Bryant did the only scoring for the Falcons in the period. Wade Hampton struggled with turnovers but was able to still keep Nation Ford on the ropes as the Generals took a 32-22 lead into the half. Wade Hampton was also aggressive on the board in the first half getting several second chance opportunities.
Mac Banks: email@example.com, @MacBanksFM