The old saying “defense wins championships” rang true Saturday in the first round of the SCISA 2A playoffs, as John Paul II’s boys defeated Carolina Academy 44-41 at Wilson Hall in Sumter. Or at least it moved the Golden Warriors one step closer.
Mark Knight continued his stellar season, leading all scorers with 17 points and eight rebounds, while Malone Kinard-Huisinger added 10 points and eight rebounds, and Jackson Ogden had 10 points and three steals for JPII.
The Golden Warriors swarmed the Bobcats early on, jumping out to an eight-point lead after the first quarter behind Knight’s nine points. But the narrative changed heading into the second, as JPII did not score a single field goal in the period, and Carolina Academy cut the deficit to four at the half.
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The Golden Warriors’ offensive struggles continued into the third quarter, but their hustle and effort on defense gave them a 30-28 advantage heading into the fourth, and they were able to hang on to advance to the SCISA 2A quarterfinals.
“I’m very proud of the effort tonight,” said JPII coach Mac Tamminen. “We’ve been holding teams to under 40 points our last four or five games and we know that if we play stellar defense, we will always have a chance.”
Along with JPII’s unbelievable effort on defense, free-throw shooting was key in its success throughout the entire game, as the Golden Warriors scored 18 of their 44 points from the charity stripe.
Down the stretch, clutch free throws from Kinard-Huisinger and Jeremiah Young gave JPII the edge in the final period, and the Golden Warriors held on to advance.
John Paul II (13-6) will play Spartanburg Christian in the quarterfinals on Tuesday. The Crusaders (17-7) advanced with a 71-24 victory over Northside Christian. Their only defeat to a SCISA team this season was a 63-50 loss at SCISA 3A Cardinal Newman.
By Trace Lowther