Cooper Knight scored just one basket all game. That one layup, though, might’ve been the biggest play of the night. It might even, from a broader perspective, be a sign of a positive trend for an inexperienced Warriors team that’s been waiting for the learning curve to bend more in its favor.
Wando overcame Summerville, 57-52, in its home opener Tuesday in Mount Pleasant.
The Warriors improve to 2-5 with the win, hoping to finally be settling in from a wobbly start to the season that began with three straight losses and two more over their next three games. Tuesday’s old rivalry matchup with the Green Wave, already seven games into the season, was the latest home debut for the Warriors in at least the past 15 years.
“It’s been a tough six road games,” Wando coach Chris Warzynski said. “It was nice to finally be home with the crowd behind us a little bit. I definitely think that helped tonight.”
Wando trailed for nearly six minutes of the fourth quarter. Tyrese Williams pulled the Warriors even with a put-back of his own miss that tied the game at 52-all with less than three minutes to play.
Then it was Knight's turn. The 5-foot-10 sophomore has a stocky frame that resembles the body of a linebacker more than your average shooting guard. He’d touched the ball some throughout the game but with very few clean opportunities. He'd yet to score. Still, he didn’t hesitate late.
The defense began to shift some as he caught a pass toward the top of the lane. Knight wrapped around the hip of his defender and stepped into a left-handed scoop off the glass for the go-ahead score.
“He’s a weight-room guy. And you can tell. He doesn’t get that basket if he’s not as strong as he is,” Warzynski said. “That was a huge shot for him to step up and take. I think it shows that we’re learning to have some trust in each other. It’s taken us some time to build that.”
Summerville seemed to trust its depth early. Seven different Green Wave players scored in the opening quarter. Freshman Matty Foor and sophomore Sam Graham both drained three-pointers. Summerville led 17-13 through the opening eight minutes.
Green Wave sophomore Javari Stephens broke the Warriors’ full-court press and finished a high-rising layup that pushed Summerville ahead 29-19 with more than four minutes left in the second quarter. It was the Green Wave’s final basket of the opening half.
Wando amplified its defensive press and fed off timely scores through a run of seven straight points that narrowed the gap to just 29-26 by halftime.
The Warriors rallied again in the third quarter, reeling off eight straight through a nearly three-minute spurt. Williams sank a bucket a step or two behind the three-point line. Sam Laydon added a drive and mid-range pull-up. Freshman Thomas Oppold then hit a three from the wing that pushed Wando ahead 42-38 with less than three minutes left in the quarter.
"They were resilient tonight," Warzynski said. "I think the environment at home really helped out."
Jordan Dunn buried two threes in the fourth quarter — his second opened a 52-45 Green Wave lead midway through. Wando would again have to rally and, once again, incited the run with its defense. The Warriors held Summerville scoreless through the final four minutes of the game. The Green Wave at one point coughed up three straight turnovers as the lead changed hands in the Warriors’ favor. Wando closed the game with 12 unanswered points, the final three coming from Laydon at the free-throw line.
Laydon finished with a game-high 13 points, eight coming in the second half. Williams added 10 for Wando. Dunn led Summerville with 10 points, while Foor and Damien Mazyck both finished with nine.
“We ratcheted up our defense a little bit tonight,” Warzynski said. “Score, get a stop. Score, get a stop. We knocked down some big shots. And it was different guys too. I think that’s a good sign moving forward.”
Wando followed its win over Summerville with a 20-point, 62-42 win at Stall four days later. The Warriors hosted AAAAA No. 9 Fort Dorchester on Tuesday, after the Moultrie News went to print. Visit moultrienews.com/sports for the most up-to-date, comprehensive coverage.
Silber career-high leads Wando girls
Wando sophomore Dylan Silber scored a career-high 29 points in the Warrior girls' 61-51 win over Class AAAAA No. 7 Summerville Tuesday in Mount Pleasant.
Silber scored 17 points in the second half, pouring in 11 in the third quarter alone to help the Warriors turn a six-point halftime lead into an 18-point cushion by the start of the fourth quarter.
Wando led 16-12 after the first quarter. Summerville sophomore forward Jasmine Gray scored nine of her team-best 24 points in the second quarter to keep the Green Wave within 33-27 at halftime.