This is the second year in a row that TC Central won the area championship at Winterboro.
“I am just proud of the guys for playing hard and seizing the opportunity as a team,” TC Central head coach Damien Dorsey said. “I am proud of Tervarus Garrett, because he was in the same situation against Westminster and he didn’t score a point for us. Tonight, he showed why he should be one of the best players in the county this season and next season. He showed a lot, did his thing and I am proud of him. He has put in a lot of work since then. I challenged him and he accepted the challenge. He put a lot of work in, so I am proud of him for that.”
The Fighting Tigers played like a team on a mission in the first half.
TC Central opened the game on a 12-3 run.
Lamar Suttle opened the game with back-to-back layups to give TC a 4-0 lead. Winterboro’s first basket of the game came at the 2:54 mark on a Taylor Garrett jumper.
Julius Player scored four points during the run, including a layup to increase TC Central’s lead to 12-3 and force a Winterboro timeout.
After a Cedric McKenzie basket, TC’s Garrett hit a 3-pointer to put TC a head 15-5.
Chason Anderson hit a layup at the buzzer to give TC a 23-10 lead going into the second quarter.
The Fighting Tigers on an 8-3 run to take a 31-13 lead. Crystyle Stockdale scored four points during the run, which included a layup off an Anderson steal to put TC up by 18 points.
Winterboro’s Nick Leonard and McKenzie scored 9 and 7 points respectively in the second period. Leonard’s 3 pointer with 2:20 left in the half cut the lead down to 35-20. McKenzie nailed a pair of 3-pointers in to cut the TC lead to 44-27. Anderson scored eight points in the quarter, which included back-to-back putbacks to put TC a head 46-27.
“ The guys were very determined,” Dorsey said. “They wanted this a lot. The seniors really talked about it and stepped up. Ramone Russell is playing with a badly sprained ankle. He sat out a couple of days and now he is able to come in and work his way through it. He got all area team for that. Him and Julius Player both have hurt ankles.”
Leonard and the Bulldogs didn’t go out without putting up a fight. The senior sharp shooter sparked a 13-3 run to open the second half. Leonard hit the first five points to cut lead down to 46-32. Phillip Cook cut the lead down to 46-35 on a 3-pointer from the right wing. Leonard was able to cut the lead to single digits off a 3-pointer to make it 49-40. Cook had a chance to get the lead within six, but his 3-point attempt spun around the rim and stopped on the back of the rim, which gave TC Central basketball since the possession arrow was pointing in their favor.
TC ended the quarter on a 5-3 run, which gave them a 54-42 lead going into the final quarter.
The tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, Garrett went off in the final quarter. The sophomore scored nine points in the quarter. His 3-pointer with 6:34 left in the game pushed TC Central’s lead back to 57-44.
Garrett was able to get some easy looks as Winterboro tried to press and trap the Fighting Tigers. He scored six of their final eight points to give TC Central a 68-56 victory.
“My kids fought,” Winterboro head coach Sheroderick Smith said. “In that third quarter, they came out blazing. They didn’t give up in that first half. I am real proud of my kids for that. Anytime you go to the playoffs that is a success. Sometime you have to keep fighting until you get a break through. We don’t know what might happen on Friday night, but I told my kids I am so happy you guys fought and didn’t back down.”
TC Central will host the loser of Loachapoka/St. Jude game at 7 p.m. on Friday. Winterboro will travel to the winner of Loachapoka/St.Jude on Friday at 7 p.m.
TC Central had four players to make the All-Area team: Ramone Russell, Crystle Stockdale, Chason Anderson and Tervarus Garrett. Garrett also earned Most Outstanding Player.
“I shot the ball well,” Garrett said. “I want to thank my teammates for making good passes to me. I am trying to help the seniors out since this is their last year playing basketball. I did it for them.”
Winterboro had three players on the team: Nick Leonard, Phillip Cook and Taylor Garrett.
Rounding out the All Tournament team were: Eddie Thomas of ASD, Tyrai Powell of Fayetteville, Jacob Weltch of Westminster.