Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Chants of overrated rained down from the Wando student section onto the visiting Goose Creek Gators as the Warriors walked off the court to embrace their coach with smiles stretched across their faces.
“This might be the sweetest win I’ve been a part of,” Wando senior guard Andrew Glover said. “It’s huge. Down here, it’s us and Goose Creek and when we get together you never know what’s going to happen.”
Just hours before tipoff Tuesday, the newest South Carolina Basketball Coaches Association poll was released with the Gators atop Class 4A and the Warriors at No. 3. Those rankings may have been slightly premature.
Wando (15-3, 2-0) served notice to Class 4A that it’s a viable title contender with a 74-40 statement win over Goose Creek (14-2, 2-1) Tuesday night at home. With one win, the Warriors shook up the SCBCA polls, claimed sole possession of first place in Region VII and stayed undefeated at home in the Chop House.
“This kind of win rewards you for all the hard work,” Wando head coach David Eaton said. “When you work hard every day you want to see some kind of results. It assures our team, we can buy into what we’re doing and all that hard work we’re putting in actually works.”
Eaton is beginning to see the fruits of his own hard work as Tuesday’s win was his 100th as a head coach. He knew since Friday there was a chance his 100th could come in the showdown with Goose Creek. His assistants knew it, the players knew, but nobody mentioned it. Instead, Eaton focused on his team and the most important game they’ve played this season.
“To him, it’s all about us and never about him,” Glover said. “Coach Eaton never once brought up anything about his 100th win. He just made sure we were prepared for tonight. He stressed to us all week how important this game was and how we needed to come out ready.”
Wando’s defense seemed more than ready from tipoff. The Warriors held Goose Creek without a made field goal in the first quarter while they built an 11-point lead powered off seven points from center Matthew Pegram and threes from Taylor Majewski and Amp Moore. Pegram was dominant in the paint Tuesday, finishing with 16 points and several clutch rebounds.
Dantez Bennamon answered back for Goose Creek in the second quarter. The star guard scored nine of his team-high 15 points to help the Gators trim the deficit down to six before the break. Six was close enough for the Warriors. Wando limited Bennamon to four points in the second half, while allowing the Gators just four made field goals. Goose Creek was held to one shot on most of its possessions as Pegram and the Warriors frontcourt controlled the boards and opened the floor for Wando’s shooters. Jamez Rogers scored 13 in the second half, while Wando rained in six threes. Glover knocked down three threes in the third quarter, the first coming two minutes in to reestablish a double-digit lead Wando held the rest of the night. Rogers finished with a game-high 17 points, while Majewski and Glover both turned in 11.
“(Wando) was ready to come out here and play tonight and I don’t think our kids matched their energy from the start and it put us behind the eight ball,” Goose Creek head coach Blake Hall said. “All credit goes to them. They had a game plan ready and did an absolute wonderful job. It’s a tough place to play, they have a very good team and they’re going to be tough to beat this year.”
After the game, Eaton was presented a framed “100th win” memento, which he quickly gave to his players to hoist and pose with. While the cameras flashed, Eaton slid to the back of the group to let his players soak in the moment while he searched for his wife in the crowd.
“This is a program win,” Eaton said. “And that’s the perfect way to get to 100.”
No. 1 fell, a young coach reached an early career milestone and a team earned its validation as one the state’s best, all on a Tuesday in Mount Pleasant.