No one who watched warm-ups and the first quarter would have boldly predicted Laurens to throttle Emerald, 53-44, Monday night.
The Greenwood school’s boys’ basketball team is big. Its girls’ team is quarantined. One game was worth the price of admission at the LDHS gym.
The Raiders unleashed a 1st-half barrage of 3-pointers on the Vikings. Led by J.Q. Fair, who hit four and scored 13 points, Laurens (2-5) turned a 5-point deficit (16-11) after a quarter into a 14-point lead (34-20) at halftime.
Head coach Joshua Chavis called the 17-4 run at the end of first half “definitely the best stretch of basketball for our guys this year.”
Chase Jackson popped a couple 3’s. Preston Mahon and KD. Mosley hit one each. All nine occurred in the first half.
Not surprisingly, the symphony of swishing nets led Emerald (2-3) to turn up the pressure, and the Raiders response was solid. The Raiders committed only 11 turnovers while forcing 15. The Vikings never got closer than eight points in the second half.
“Our guys were confident. They moved the basketball and limited their turnovers,” Chavis said. “Turnovers killed us for most of the year (to this point).”
What’s more, LDHS outrebounded Emerald, 44-33.
Isaias Burnside only scored 4 points, but he couldn’t have made one of his field goals had he tried it 99 more times.
Nor would he have likely wanted to. He would have had severely skint knees.
Early in the fourth quarter, Burnside tripped or stumbled as he roared into the paint. Still dribbling (sort of), he crawled past Emerald’s Demarion Rapp – both knees on the floor – and somehow threw the ball up … and in.
The ungainly miracle gave LDHS a 36-22 lead and the Vikings a feeling that it wasn’t their night.
Trailing Fair on the Raider score sheet were Joshua Cureton and K.D. Mosley, each with 9; Jackson with 8; Tyquavious Johnson with 5; Isaias Burnside with 4; Mahon with 3; and Waldrick Burnside with 2. The Raiders hit 20-45 (.444) field goal but just 5-20 (.250) free throws.
Fortunately, Emerald’s percentages were 19-39 (.487) but 4-10 (.400), respectively.
Kevin Morton led the Vikings with 16 points. Z Elmore scored 12. Rapp had 10. Shep Forrester scored 6, Pharrel Long 2 and Zach Norman 1.
Laurens took only half as many shots in the second half as the first.
“[Emerald] pressured us in the second half, but we wanted to be more patient,” Chavis said. “In the first half we settled for 3-pointers, but in the second half we worked the ball inside.”
Woodruff returns a date, arriving in Laurens on Friday when rumor has it the girls may finally debut. In between, the Raiders will go to Greenwood on Wednesday for a boys’ encore with the Vikings.