With the clock winding down and his team set to close out Indian Land, Strom Thurmond head coach Bo Rouse could finally stand up and applaud. His Rebels survived a back-and-forth slugfest Saturday night to advance to the third round of the Class AA playoffs with an 81-69 double overtime win.
“I had about six heart attacks, blood pressure’s sky-high, but guess what? We won,” a jubilant Rouse said after the final horn. “We got the W. Yes sir!”
Strom Thurmond (18-8) had to overcome a 31-point performance from Indian Land superstar Darnell Rogers. The All-State selection drained a pair of 3-pointers in the game’s final 30 seconds to tie it up, but fouled out with 4.3 ticks remaining. The Rebels focused on containing him throughout the game, but he still broke through.
“Two things we do: We trust, and we believe. … The key to it was the defense. We started playing defense, we started taking Rogers out of the equation,” Rouse said, acknowledging that Rogers still foiled the Rebels’ efforts to truly stop him. “When he fouled out, my heart went, ‘Thank you, Jesus!’ He’s a player.”
With Rogers forced to watch from the bench, the Warriors fought to push the game to a second overtime. Mark Morton, who scored 15 points in the game, ran the offense, and Indian Land (16-6) had a chance to win the game in the final seconds. Mike Webb had a look at a breakaway layup and was intentionally fouled with 2.7 seconds to play. He made one of two free throws to tie the game, but the Warriors couldn’t get a shot to drop at the buzzer.
Strom Thurmond sealed the deal in double overtime at the free throw line, hitting nine of its 23 foul shots in the final four minutes.
“That’s probably the best game we’ve shot free throws in this year,” said Rouse. “It was a great time for it.”
To even make it to overtime, the Rebels had to hang on as Indian Land countered Strom Thurmond’s 14-0 run with a late run of its own. Rogers led the charge, making a 3-pointer with 23.8 seconds left to bring the Warriors within 3. With every eye in the building on him, he made another one with 16 seconds remaining to tie the game.
“He was scoring at will. … We prepared for him all week, but I didn’t think he’d score that many points on us,” said Rouse, adding that the Rebels threw everything they had schematically at Rogers. “We put our best two defenders on him, and we still couldn’t stop him. But we got the W.”
Daquarius Johnson, the Rebels’ own All-State pick, was one of three Strom Thurmond players with 15 points. Joining him were Dante Stover and Deontrez Mealing, and the trio was a big part of the 14-0 run that put the Rebels up 10 with under five minutes to go in the game.
“In the middle of the fourth quarter, I thought it was over,” Rouse said. But Indian Land came back.
“My guys refused to lose. … I’m so proud of them,” said Rouse, recognizing his players that logged significant minutes, including a 40-minute effort from Johnson. “We’re proud of him. He did a great job.”
Jeremy Carroll (11 points) and Rod Dobbs (10) also scored in double figures for the Rebels, who will play Wednesday in the third round of the playoffs.
Strom Thurmond raced out to an early 15-3 lead, but the Warriors stormed right back. Indian Land sandwiched a Johnson basket with a pair of 7-0 runs to tie the game after one quarter.
Rogers scored the Warriors’ final 10 points of the first half, giving him 16 before intermission and giving Indian Land a 32-25 lead. But the Rebels chipped away little by little, gaining ground in the third quarter before pulling ahead in the fourth.
“They’ve got that never-quit attitude,” Rouse said of his team. “You control the runs, you win ballgames.”
IL 17;15;7;21;6;3- 69
ST 17;8;11;24;6;15- 81
Indian Land (16-6) — Darnell Rogers 8 12-13 31, Mark Morton 4 6-8 15, C.J. McClure 2 1-2 7, Quantra Taylor 2 1-3 5, Brandon Sellers 2 0-0 4, Mike Webb 1 2-8 4, Tellon P. Glenn 1 0-0 2, Ravon Dixon 0 1-2 1. Totals 20 23-36 69.
3-pointers: Rogers (3), McClure (2), Morton.
Strom Thurmond (18-8) — Daquarius Johnson 5 5-10 15, Dante Stover 6 3-6 15, Deontrez Mealing 6 3-4 15, Jeremy Carroll 4 1-1 11, Rod Dobbs 3 4-5 10, Onesis Brown 3 1-1 7, Tyree Stidem 1 2-6 4, Jacob Cook 0 4-4 4. Totals 28 23-37 81.