One day after taking Dutch Fork into double overtime — and losing 68-49 — the Sumter High School varsity girls basketball team showed it could bounce back.
The Lady Gamecocks opened Wednesday's game against Richland Northeast with a 10-2 scoring run and never looked back en route to a 49-34 victory at the SHS gymnasium to close out non-region play.
"I was a little concerned when we were coming out that we'd have a little bit of a hangover from last night's double-overtime loss," said Lady Gamecocks head coach Jeff Schaffer, whose team is 13-3 on the season.
Whether that was the case or not, SHS bolted to a 31-16 halftime lead, but the Lady Cavaliers showed a little life in the second half. Rather than continue with a blowout, the Lady Gamecocks outscored RNE 19-18 in the third and fourth quarters.
Those are two things that Sumter High School varsity girls head basketball coach Jeff Schaffer calls basics of the game. And he said the Lady Gamecocks' inability to execute in those areas cost them in their 68-49 double-overtime loss to undefeated Dutch Fork Tuesday at the SHS gymnasium.
Sumter, which fell to 12-3 on the season, was just 8-for-17 from the free throw line and missed their final seven spanning the fourth quarter and the overtime sessions. Sumter also struggled rebounding against the taller Lady Silver Foxes, who improved to 12-0.
"Until you start performing the basics consistently, you're not going to win the close games, and that's what happened to us tonight," Schaffer said. "We were not disciplined enough in the first half in setting up our offense, and then we didn't hit our free throws or rebound well down the stretch."
The Lady Gamecocks, who lost to Dutch Fork 56-42 earlier this season, trailed 26-18 at halftime on Tuesday. After the Lady Foxes opened a 31-21 advantage early in the third quarter, SHS managed to narrow the lead to 35-31 after three quarters. Sumter pulled within 37-35 on two free throws — its last two of the game — and a followup by Lillian McGill. After a Dutch Fork basket, McGill missed two free throws and Whitney Ouzts hit a jump shot to push the Lady Foxes' lead to 41-35.
McGill answered with a nice spin move for a layup to cut the lead back to four. Frances Fields missed the front end of a one-and-one, but SHS got the rebound and Fields hit a layup to make it 41-39 with 3:14 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Ouzts hit another jumper to make it 43-39, before McGill banked in a shot to cut the lead to 43-41 with 2:10 to go. Dutch Fork held on to the ball until Sumter forced a turnover with 1:22 left. The Lady Gamecocks finally tied the game at 43-43 on a jumper by Fields with 48 seconds to go.
The Sumter High School varsity boys basketball team had not played in a game for 10 days, but that was hard to tell by the start it had in Tuesday's game against Dutch Fork Tuesday at the SHS gymnasium.
The Gamecocks poured in the game's first 17 points and led 28-3 after one quarter on the way to a 70-43 victory that improved its record to 10-3.
"That was a pretty good start," said Sumter head coach Nathan Livesay. "It didn't look like we had been off for 10 days. We came out and we were ready to play."
Sean Whetsel hit four shots from behind the arc in the first quarter as Sumter jumped out to a 17-0 lead. After Steven Goulet got 2-8 Dutch Fork on the board with a 3-point play, the Gamecocks scored the final 11 points. Dontae Middleton hit a trey before SHS got four layups off turnovers in a 47-second span to finish off the scoring in the quarter.
The Gamecocks beat Dutch Fork 53-35 in an earlier meeting this season. However, Sumter just led 20-18 at halftime of that game. It dictated the pace in the second half of that game and came out with the same intention Tuesday.
"Dutch Fork likes to make you slow down and play at their pace," Livesay said. "We started out tonight with the intention of controlling the tempo and making them play at our pace."
The Silver Foxes scored the first seven points of the second quarter to cut the lead to 28-10. However, they were never able to establish anything offensively and never got any closer.
Sumter led 36-14 at halftime and pushed the lead out to 52-22 after three quarters. The Gamecocks took their biggest lead of the game at 68-35 when Jacques Watson converted a 3-point play.
Whetsel led Sumter with 20 points, including hitting six 3-pointers. Derrick Hastie and Kelton Tindal each had 15.
"That's the second straight game in which Sean has shot like that," Livesay said. "We're hoping that's going to be something that we see from game to game."
The Sumter High School varsity girls basketball team cruised to an easy 56-34 victory over Lee Central in the championship game of the District 9 Officials Christmas Tournament Thursday at Morris College's Garrick-Boykin Gymnasium.
The Lady Gamecocks improved to 12-2 overall with the win and finished the tournament undefeated. The Lady Stallions fell to 10-2 after winning four games in the tournament.
The championship game turned out to be anticlimactic following Sumter's last-second 54-52 win over Region VI-4A foe Marlboro County in Thursday's play-in game. The Lady Gamecocks were pitted against Marlboro when Lee Central drew the bye into the final after all three teams ended up undefeated through Wednesday's games.
"That first game was just a great basketball game," said Sumter head coach Jeff Schaffer. "I was a little concerned, actually, coming out in the second game that we'd be a little flat after having such an emotional win in the first game." But they didn't seem to feel the effects of it."
Standout junior center Lillian McGill took home tournament Most Valuable Player honors for her performances. McGill posted a double-double, with 14 points and 13 rebounds in the championship game. Fellow junior Frances Fields led all scorers with 18 points and added seven assists. Robin Covington added 10.
Lechell Rush led the Lady Stallions with 13 points and eight rebounds before fouling out late in the game. Whitney Murphy added eight points and 10 rebounds for Lee Central.
The Sumter High School girls basketball team turned in its second dominant performance of the day Wednesday, dispatching Brookland-Cayce 71-30 in the District 9 Officials Christmas Basketball Tournament.
Earlier in the day, Sumter crushed Manning 83-19. With the wins, Sumter remains undefeated in the tournament and improves to 10-2 overall.
The Lady Gamecocks, however, found themselves on the short end of the 3-way drawing that determined who among three undefeated teams will have to play in to the tournament's championship game. Following Marlboro County's 46-41 win over C.E. Murray, a 3-way drawing held with Lee Central and Marlboro determined that Sumter would face Marlboro County at noon today at Morris College's Garrick-Boykin Human Development Center.
The winner of that will face Lee Central in the championship game at 6 p.m., also at Morris College. Lee Central took care of Jasper County and Manning to remain undefeated in the tournament.
In the boys half of the tournament, Crestwood and Lee Central will play for the title at 8 even after Crestwood beat the Stallions 60-56 Wednesday night.
The Lady Gamecocks have good reason to remain optimistic, in spite of the turn of bad luck. Sumter is averaging 74 points per game in the tournament while holding its opponents to an average of 29, and their offensive play is beginning to pick up even as the defense remains solid.
"We played well," said Sumter head coach Jeff Schaffer. "We're finally starting to come together. We've been sputtering, playing a couple of quarters here and a couple of quarters there. Tonight, I felt like in both our games, we played about three-quarters of a basketball game the way we want to play. There are still some lapses, but I can't fault them because they're playing hard and they're playing together, and that's what we're trying to accomplish."
Brookland-Cayce was without the services of its standout post player Krista Coleman, who went down in the Lady Bearcats' first game today. "That's the unfortunate thing," said B-C head coach David Mack. "I sent a kid to the hospital today, a 6-2 post player who gives us 21 points a night and a load of rebounds. That made a big difference tonight."
Junior guard Frances Fields led the Lady Gamecocks with 19 while junior center Lillian McGill put up 16. Both turned in double-doubles, as well, with Fields dishing out 10 assists and McGill grabbing 14 rebounds. Fields added five rebounds and five steals to keep Sumter running the court.
"(Lillian) has been averaging a double-double for us," said Schaffer. "She and Frances Fields have really been the core of what we're doing. Others are contributing. We'll have someone come in with 11 points one night and someone else with some crucial defensive rebounds another, and that's what we have to do to be competitive.
"We have to be able to go deep on our bench, and right now we're going eight or nine consistently and not lose too much. You can't ask for much more than that."
The game started out looking as if it might be a close one as Sumter battled the Lady Bearcats to a 14-14 tie after the first period, but after that, it was all SHS as the Lady Gamecocks held B-C to only 16 points in the final three quarters. Sumter put the game away in the second quarter, exploding for 25 points to take a 39-20 halftime lead, and they never looked back.
Schaffer feels good about his team's preparation for region play with at least two more tune-up games to play, and today's matchup against region foe Marlboro County will give him a good idea what to expect. "We're going to have to step up play in our region," Schaffer said. "Marlboro's a very good team, and they've been really impressive in this tournament. South Florence has a good record right now, and even West Florence and Conway are playing decent basketball.
"In our region, I think sometimes we don't get the credit that some of the other regions do," said Schaffer, "but last year we put four region teams in the (state) tournament and three of the four made it through the first round, two made it through the second and we made it to the lower state championship. So we're going to have to play a little bit better than we've been playing, even in this tournament, we're still going to have to play better, especially defensively."
Nine local teams will participate in this year’s District 9 Christmas Tournament, which is hosted by Morris College and Sumter High School beginning Tuesday and running through Thursday.
The boys side will be represented by Lee Central, Lakewood, Crestwood and a late-addition in Scott’s Branch. The girls will have Manning, Lakewood, Crestwood, Lee Central and Sumter.
Other teams participating in the boys tournament are SCISA school Northwood Academy, C.E. Murray, Georgetown, East Mecklenburg (N.C.). Calhoun County, Brookland-Cayce, Kingstree, Lake City, South Aiken, C.E. Murray, Lake Marion, Jasper Co. and Marlboro Co. will play in the girls tournament.
For the local teams the tournament will serve as one last chance to get all the kinks out before they begin region play. At least that is what Sumter girls head coach Jeff Schaffer is hoping for.
“It is going to be a final tune-up before we really need to be hitting our stride,” he said. “We have yet to get it together for four quarters. We have played a good quarter here and a good quarter there and have even played good halves. We just haven’t played for four quarters yet.”
For the Lee Central boys team, the tournament will give head coach LaVerne Knox the chance to work in Michael and Phillip Holmes and senior guard Alonzo Bess. The three returners from last year have sat out the first few games of the season because of various reasons.
“We return a bulk of the team back from last year,” Knox said. “You always have to find that chemistry and once you find it and have to change it up a little bit, there is always a little problem. It’s a good problem to have.”
Crestwood girls head coach Lisa Ard feels that the tournament will be a good measuring stick to rate her team. She hopes, like Schaffer, that the Lady Knights can get it together before region VI-3A starts in January.
“There is a pretty good mix of teams in the tournament,” Ard said. “It’s got some Columbia teams and some teams from out of the area. I know it will be good for my team. We hope to refine everything and get it right before January. Playing in the tournament helps us get prepared for our region.”
Every team is guaranteed four games in the tournament with two games apiece Tuesday and Wednesday. The championship games for boys and girls will be held at Morris College on Thursday.
The Stallions and Lakewood will kick off the tournament at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at Morris College. Lee Central will get a long break as it won’t play again until 9 p.m. against Calhoun Co. at Sumter High, while Lakewood plays Northwood Academy at 1:30 p.m.
The Manning and Lakewood girls will follow Lee Central and the Gators at noon at Morris. The Lady Monarchs will turn around and play Lake City at 3 p.m. at Sumter’s Gym 2 and Lakewood will return to Morris at 4:30 to play Brookland-Cayce.
Sumter High School's varsity boys basketball team trailed for a total of around a half-minute in its first two games of the Allstate Insurance Coaches vs. Cancer Classic held this week at the SHS gymnasium, winning over Creek Bridge and Strom Thurmond by a combined margin of 169-85.
In Friday's championship game against Cheraw, the Gamecocks played from behind for most of the night and the Braves closed with a 10-0 run to take the tourney title with a 74-62 win.
Sumter High coach Nathan Livesay, whose team fell to 9-3 with the loss, was not surprised by anything he saw from the 6-1 Braves.
"They did what we expected them to do," Livesay said. "They made a lot of good shots, and in the second half they hit some big shots. In the first half I felt like we kept giving them open looks and they knocked those down. In the second half they made some tough shots. We did a better job of challenging shots and they still knocked them down. They're a very good team. They have a very good chance at winning the state championship in Double-A."
The game saw its share of 3-pointers on both sides, with Cheraw hitting 10 shots from long-range and Sumter connecting on nine shots from behind the arc. Sumter's Travis Durant and Cheraw's Brandon Reid both hit three 3's in the second quarter. Durant hit a fourth 3-pointer in the third to finish with 12 while Reid led all scorers with 24 points, including five treys. Joining the long-range barrage were Sumter's Sean Whetsel, who hit five treys among his team-leading 17 points, and Cheraw's Josh Henderson and Chris Massey, who each had two bombs among their 14 and 11 points, respectively.
When Kerrie Wilkie and Angela Cataldo found out they had been nominated by Sumter High School varsity softball head coach Sherrie Sealy for a chance to play in the TourneySport USA Hawaii Softball Classic, they didn’t get too excited.
“I didn’t even know they had such a tournament,” Wilkie said. “I didn’t think we would really get a chance to go,” Cataldo said. “I didn’t think it would happen.”
Well, guess what? Wilkie and Cataldo are going to Honolulu.
They will be flying out on Dec. 28 for the tournament, which is open to junior softball players from throughout the country. The tournament will run through Jan. 5.
“I was like, ‘Wow! This is awesome,” Cataldo said when she found out the news and was told by her parents if she raised the necessary funds, she could go.
For Wilkie, it will be a big week in more ways than one.
“We’re counting down; it’s going to be a huge day,” Wilkie said. “I’ve never flown before.”
The tournament will have around 150 players. Wilkie and Cataldo are two of five from South Carolina.
This will be the latest in a long line of softball adventures for Wilkie and Cataldo. They have been playing with and against each other for the past nine years. Along with playing together for Sumter High, they have played together on Sumter County Recreation Department all-star teams. Both play on travel teams — Wilkie with the Carolina Girls and Cataldo with the South Carolina Bandits.
Each girl had to raise $2,978 to cover the cost of the trip. They went into the community and were able to raise enough money. (full story)
Chris Moore / The Item Sumter High’s Jaywann Parker, left, jumps over a Lakewood defender for a shot Dec. 6 at the SHS gymnasium. The Gamecocks, fresh from a showing in the BBA Carolina Classic last weekend, host the Allstate Insurance Coaches vs. Cancer Classic beginning Wednesday. The Lakewood boys will also play in the tournament Wednesday.
Most holidays for high school students are used for relaxing after exams. Don’t tell that to the Sumter High School boys basketball team.
The Gamecocks will play six games in eight days in two tournaments over the holidays. Head coach Nathan Livesay hopes the games serve as a tune-up before region play starts Jan. 6.
“The good thing about playing all these games in a row is that it is a good time to work out some kinks,” said Livesay, whose team is 7-2 on the season. “Hopefully we will get into a good rhythm and have a couple of weeks to get back to work and improve. We’ve got a lot of work to do and a lot of things we need to improve on.”
The Gamecocks won the BBA Carolina Classic Monday with a 65-45 win over Fairfield Central. They will have a day off today before hosting the Allstate Insurance Coaches vs. Cancer Classic beginning Wednesday.
The Gamecocks open with Creek Bridge at 8:30 p.m. Other teams participating in the tournament are Lakewood, Strom Thurmond, Cheraw and Lake City. Lakewood will play Lake City at 6:45 p.m. to open the tournament.
With one half gone between the Lakewood and Sumter high school varsity girls basketball teams Tuesday, the fans were settling in for a good ball game. That didn't last long. Sumter shut out the Lady Gators in the third quarter and outscored them 39-8 in the second half for a 57-25 romp at the Lakewood Gymnasium.
Sumter High School's Kelton Tindal stole a pass in the opening seconds and sprinted down court and finished it with a rim-rocking slam. And it only went downhill from there for Lakewood. The Gamecocks jumped out to a 24-2 lead at the end of the first quarter and cruised to an 80-35 victory at the Lakewood gymnasium Tuesday.
Twenty local teams to take part in tourneys throughout the state
One won’t have to go far to watch their favorite high school basketball team play over the holidays. Twenty local teams will participate in 10 tournaments in the Palmetto State, including two in Sumter and one in Dalzell. The tournaments start this weekend and the last game will be played on Dec. 30.
Frances Fields took control of the first half, while Lillian McGill shot lights out in the second half. In all, Fields, McGill and the Sumter High School girls basketball team wrapped up a 56-38 win over Crestwood Friday night at the SHS gymnasium.