It was anyone’s guess how sharp Colleton County’s boys would be Friday night, coming out of a nearly three-week hiatus with just three practices since breaking quarantine. But there was no question they would be motivated.
The will outweighed the early rust and late fatigue, as the Cougars wrote the first chapter in a potential Cinderella story with a thrilling 57-53 win at May River in the first round of the Region 7-4A tournament. Silas Holmes scored 19 points, including a go-ahead and-one with 27 seconds left that helped Colleton County seal its first win. The Cougars will travel to top-seeded Hilton Head High on Monday with the winner advancing to Thursday’s championship game.
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Deshaun Blocker added 14 points, Brian Hamilton contributed 13 on four triples — including a four-point play — and Dorian Gant was a monster in the paint for the Cougars, who played for the first time since Jan. 22 and warmed up in T-shirts honoring former All-State hoops star Alex Sherrill, who was killed in a car accident last month.
“For us to come out and keep the season alive for our seniors, I’d like to think that maybe Alex had a hand in that,” Cougars coach Matthew Mullins said. “Hats off to our seniors, hats off to all the guys on our team. They came out and competed and believed in each other.”
The Cougars (1-7) played with energy from the start, fueled by a flurry of early three-pointers, including a pair from Holmes, who put up eight points en route to an 18-13 lead after one quarter. May River’s Jakii Morrow traded buckets with Holmes early, splashing a pair of triples in the opening minutes for six of his eight points.
May River (5-6) had success feeding the post in the second quarter, as Brady Harrell put up six of his 10 in the quarter. But Hamilton heated up, draining a pair of threes including a rare four-point play, and Blocker added five points in the quarter to help hold off a charge from the Sharks and lead 36-30 at halftime.
Colleton’s lead grew to 47-39 after another Hamilton triple and four quick points off turnovers from Deshaun Blocker, but Gavin Blocker kept the Sharks in it, hitting back-to-back triples and adding a transition bucket while absorbing a hard foul. He came up shaking his left hand, though, and didn’t score again.
James Layman tried to will the Sharks to victory, hitting a driving layup and then draining a three that cut the margin to 53-51. After a Steffin Gadson steal, Garvin Douglas drove for a tough bucket and drew a foul, but the potential go-ahead free throw was off the mark.
The Cougars couldn’t cash in on their first opportunity to regain the lead, but after a defensive stop, Holmes drove to his left and finished at the rim, then polished off the and-one. Gavin Blocker got a clear shot at a corner three to tie it, but Gant corraled the rebound and Antawn Griffin hit the front end of a one-and-one to seal it.
“The back half of the fourth, I could see us getting tired, but we had to finish with the guys who got us there,” Mullins said. “They sucked it up and were able to pull it out. I’m really proud of them for playing through the fatigue and getting that first win. It’s a huge one. We get to keep playing.”
Story and photos by Justin Jarrett