Saturday, February 15, 2014
Longtime rivals collided in Mount Pleasant Friday, one vying for supremacy, the other survival.
The Wando Warriors used a second-half surge to knock off the West Ashley Wildcats, 72-43, and claim their third Class 4A Region VII championship in four years. The win gives the Warriors a No. 1 seed and home-court advantage in the playoffs, and ends the Wildcats' season short of a playoff bid.
“They've got a really good team,” West Ashley head coach Ronnie DuPre said. “We didn't shoot well enough, we got killed on the boards. To stay in the game, we couldn't get beat as badly as we did down there. We made some mistakes but they (Wando) had a lot to do with it.”
West Ashley (15-7, 4-5) played like a team fighting for its season in the first half. The two teams exchanged the lead six times in the second quarter alone. Jamez Rogers finally grabbed control for Wando with eight points, six straight, in the final three minutes of the first half to send the Warriors into the break with an eight-point advantage.
Wando (20-4, 7-1) exploded out halftime with a 12-0 run. West Ashley didn't find its first points until more than five minutes in, and made its lone field goal with just a minute left in the quarter.
Wando head coach David Eaton sent in his seniors in the fourth quarter to seal the win in their final regular season game. The veteran lineup extended the lead to 30 points before giving way to the Warriors reserves.
Rogers finished with a game-high 23 points, Andrew Glover added 13 for Wando. Kevin Sobiesuo led West Ashley with 15.
“We expected them to come ready to play,” Eaton said. “I've never seen West Ashley not play hard. We just didn't communicate well in the first half. We score more when we are able to get stops on defense and that changed the game for us in the second half.”
With West Ashley's season cut short, DuPre will have to wait until next season to pick up his 500th career win. DuPre entered Friday one win short of the milestone but said making the playoffs would have meant more to him than No. 500.
“I'm not chasing numbers,” he said. “The win would have meant a lot because it would have put us in the playoffs. It's not about me, so 500 didn't mean anything tonight.”
Wando opens against the Region VIII No. 4 seed — Beaufort or Fort Dorchester — in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs Thursday at home.
“Coach DuPre is a great coach and I know he's going to get his 500th and many more,” Eaton said. “It would have been nice if both teams could have won but this win was huge for our program. Every year, every team is different, so three (region titles) in four years is really special. We thought we had a chance to be good the next couple years but these guys came out a did it this year against some good competition and I'm really proud of them.”