Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Call it clutch, or winning time, but when the game is on the line, there’s something special that separates the great teams from the rest.
Dutch Fork was relentless in its offensive attack, pushing Wando as close to the edge as any team has in the Warriors’ playoff run this season. But in the final minutes of the game, in front of their home crowd with the season hanging in the balance, the Warriors wouldn’t be denied.
Wando knocked off Dutch Fork, 70-64, in the third round of the Class 4A playoffs Tuesday to advance to the Lower State title game for just the third time in school history.
“They’re a great team, but we were just a little bit better in the end and that just what it was,” Wando head coach David Eaton said. “We showed a lot of toughness to get this win tonight.”
Wando won its first two playoff games by 21 points. It didn’t lead by more than four points in the second half Tuesday until the final seconds of the game. Dutch Fork rained in 12 threes, eight in the second half. It held a lead three times in the third quarter and was a point away from tying the game with two minutes to play in the fourth before Wando went on a 10-5 run to seal the win.
Just a day after being named to the S.C. Basketball Coaches Association All-state team, Warriors sophomore forward Jamez Rogers lived up to his billing with a game-high 27 points. He scored eight in the fourth quarter, including an emphatic two-hand dunk at the buzzer that nearly blew the roof off of Wando’s Chop House.
“It’s so easy to give up when a team is hot like that on your home floor, but I’m so proud of my guys for the way they played,” Eaton said. “Jamez comes out here and plays one of his best games of the year in the biggest game of the year. It’s unbelievable.”
Jordan Davis hit five threes to lead Dutch Fork with 19 points. Matthew Pegram scored 17 points and was a huge presence in the post for Wando. Andrew Glover and Amp Moore both added seven points for the Warriors.
Wando finishes the season a perfect 11-0 at home and now travels to Florence Saturday to try and accomplish what no other Wando basketball team has ever done, win a Lower State championship. Region VI champion Sumter (17-5) awaits after defeating Goose Creek, 45-37, Tuesday.
“We’ll welcome anybody,” Eaton said. “It’s fun playing people you don’t know. This team has a different mental approach. They’re so serious about winning. Hot or cold, they’re confident they always have a chance to win. This team is destined for great things and they deserve it.”