The contrast could not have been greater in Friday night’s Region 1-5A basketball games at Laurens District High School.
In the boys’ game, the Raiders came storming back to defeat Greenwood 61-60. In the girls’ game, the Eagles outscored Laurens by 14 points in the second half to win 52-33.
Mr. Explosion, meet Ms. Implosion. Usually, the girls are the beauties and the boys are the beasts. Au contraire. The teams played against both each other and type.
At the end of the third quarter of the boys’ game, Greenwood (6-12, 1-5 region) led 41-34. Less than a minute in, it was 47-34. Three minutes later, it was 52-46. With 52 seconds left, Laurens (9-8, 4-2) took its first lead since the end of the first quarter on a Dee Foster putback. In the final 10 seconds, the Eagles had two chances to win. Both shots went awry.
The Raiders were rocking, and so was their gym.
“It was an emotional game,” LDHS head coach Ryan Walker said. “That’s what makes these community schools so much fun. Our student section was amazing, awesome. The players know each other. Schools in Spartanburg or Greenville, they show up for big games, but our student section is with us every night. It’s amazing. The same with Greenwood. Greenwood’s special, and they brought a great crowd. That’s the type thing our kids should be able to experience.”
All hands were on deck. Nine Raiders scored. Eight Eagles did. Thirteens were wild. Christian Anderson and Foster had 13 for the Raiders. Javarion Calhoun had 13 for the Eagles.
When it was all over, the two teams were separated by one free throw and three rebounds. Both hit 18 field goals, and the Raiders launched one more shot.
“That Greenwood team is a little different than it’s been all year, just because they got Javarion Calhoun back, who’s an all-state guard,” LDHS head coach Ryan Walker said. “He’s going to be a college basketball player. They’re still learning how to play together. I think we’re evenly matched, but I think our guys just kept battling and battling, but in that third quarter, we couldn’t buy a bucket and everything was going against us, but I think we held our composure enough to get it together and make a gigantic push.”
Laurens girls’ coach Yoneko Allen looked as helpless to affect what was going on in front of her as anyone in the gym.
She tried. The Raiders played hard and frantically, but not effectively. All the two games had in common was that Laurens led both after a quarter.
At halftime, Greenwood (10-7, 3-3) led by five. In the third quarter, the Eagles outscored Laurens 13-1.
Laurens (4-10, 1-5) shot 18 percent from the floor and was outrebounded 58-39. The Eagles were hardly a paragon of precision; they hit 29.5 percent of their field goal attempts and 53.8 from the line. They tried 10 more free throws and hit six more.
Diamond Miller – by the way, both teams have a player with that first name – led Greenwood with 14, and Qua Fortson scored 13 for Laurens. Raniya Jackson and the Raiders’ Diamond (Pressley) scored five each.
Laurens had an 8-0 run in the final quarter. It was too late even to make it respectable.
An overview of the two games revealed that the action was faster in the boys’ game, but the numbers higher – and not in a good way – in the girls’ game. The boys’ teams combined to take 81 shots and grab 49 rebounds. The girls combined for 122 shots and 97 rebounds.
The games were vastly different.
GREENWOOD (52): Shemyra Patterson 8, Shelby Seymour 7, Nycole Foster 2, Diamond Miller 14, Aliya Moton 6, Sequoia Darby 4, Carley Lyle 2, Shamiya Starks-Belcher 3, Dazya Barcliff 6. Field goals: 18-61. Free throws: 14-26. Rebounds: 58. Turnovers: 24.
LAURENS (33): Kenaja Burnside 2, Qua Fortson 13, Ashanti Conway 3, Raniya Jackson 5, M.K. Moore 4, Diamond Pressley 5. Field goals: 11-61. Free throws: 7-16. Rebounds: 39. Turnovers: 21.
GREENWOOD (60): Javarion Calhoun 13, Donovan Williams 3, Kendrick Makins 3, Alex Cunningham 17, Malik Palmore 6, Ahmari Coats 4, Jaylin Tolbert 11, Marcus Holloway 3. Field goals: 18-40. Free throws: 17-24. Rebounds: 26. Turnovers: 15.
LAURENS (61): Dravious Copeland 5, Zay Davis 2, Dee Foster 13, Christian Anderson 13, J’Von Harris 2, Leonard Williams 9, J.Q. Fair 5, Jordan Woodruff 8, Josh Ricks 4. Field goals; 18-41. Rebounds: 23. Turnovers: 15.