GREENWOOD – That air of finality that ends a basketball season is harsh.
Greenwood (11-15, 6-8 Region 1-5A) defeated the Laurens boys by a score of 78-70 Friday night, banishing the Raiders from a playoff berth. The Eagles led from the start and gradually pulled away for three quarters before withstanding a Laurens (10-16, 5-9) rally in the fourth.
Greenwood also won the girls’ game by a score of 50-35 after Laurens led 20-19 at half.
Leonard Williams, who led Laurens with 22 points, fueled the comeback, and after trailing by 13 points after three quarters, the Raiders got as close as three points.
A three-point play by the Eagles’ Jayun Tolbert with 1:13 remaining hiked the lead to 75-67 and effectively snuffed out all Raider hopes.
Though more competitive, Laurens finished the season with 10 victories for the second straight year.
“I told my seniors they’ve righted the ship for us these last two years,” head coach Ryan Walker said. “We’re not a program anymore that people see on the schedule and skip to the next game. We’re a team you’ve got to game-plan for, a team that if you don’t come ready to play, we’re going to beat you. We couldn’t really say that before this year.
“We’re on our way.”
Walker felt the difference in the fourth quarter and the three that preceded it was simply that shots started falling.
“We couldn’t hit our shots in the first half,” he said. “We got our looks. I don’t think we lacked a sense of urgency. I think we couldn’t buy a bucket.”
The game got close in a short period of time. The Eagles led by 13 (58-45) when a personal and then a technical foul put Williams at the free-throw line for four shots. He hit three. Then, with LDHS still in possession, Williams drove to the basket for a layup and was fouled. That free throw narrowed the lead to 58-51 with 6:32 on the clock.
The third quarter was unkind to the Laurens girls, who had already been eliminated from the playoffs. After Laurens (6-18, 2-12) led 20-19 at halftime, Greenwood (14-11, 7-7) outscored the Raiders 17-6 in the third quarter and 14-9 in the fourth.
Shelby Seymour led the Eagles with 15 points. Ashanti Conway led the Raiders with nine.
LDHS hit only 22.4 percent of its shots but somehow managed to hit nine of 10 free throws.
LAURENS (35): Kenaja Burnside 7, Qua Fortson 8, Ashanti Conway 9, Raniya Jackson 3, Lamoria Allen 2, Mikajiah Moore 6. Field goals: 11-49. Free throws: 9-10. Rebounds: 35. Turnovers: 17.
GREENWOOD (50): Shelby Seymour 15, Nycole Foster 2, Diamond Miller 11, Aliya Motor 6, Corley Lyle 3, Shamiya Starks-Belcher 2, Dazya Barcliff 11. Field goals: 18-52. Free throws: 10-11. Rebounds: 39. Turnovers: 11.
LAURENS (70): Dravious Copeland 6, Christian Anderson 13, J’Von Harris 2, Leonard Williams 22, Shamare Dendy 8, Jordan Woodruff 2, Dee Foster 15, Josh Ricks 2. Field goals: 27-57. Free throws: 13-24. Rebounds: 39. Turnovers: 15.
GREENWOOD (78): Vari Calhoun 16, K.J. Makins 8, Alex Cunningham 14, Malik Palmore 4, R.J. Anderson 2, Jayun Tolbert 12, Dalen Boyles 2, M.J. Holloway 18, Marion Williams 2. Field goals: 27-58. Free throws: 16-22. Rebounds: 36. Turnovers: 10.