Winterboro is the top seed in the tournament, while TC Central is the fourth seed.
TC Central had a chance to win the game when Tiarrial Duncan grabbed a defensive rebound with 2.8 seconds left and TC Central head coach Robert Duncan called a timeout. After the timeout, the inbounds pass went to Duncan at half court and she dribbled up and let off an off-balance shot just before time expired that was close but didn’t go in the hoop.
“Luck fell our way tonight,” Winterboro head coach Sheroderick Smith said. “That was a key to the win. The last shot by Tiarrial could’ve went in, but it fell out. So, luck fell on our side tonight.”
At an individual level, Duncan reached a milestone during the game.
“Hats off to Tiarrial Duncan, just a sophomore,” coach Duncan said. “She surpassed 1000 points tonight. She only lacked two points from surpassing 1000 points for her career. I think that’s a great accomplishment in itself.”
For Duncan, she found the accomplishment encouraging but unsatisfying because of the game’s result.
“It encourages me to try to reach 2000, still got a couple years left,” she said. “I tried because it’s a big game, especially in the County Tournament. I just wish we would have come out with the win. If it wasn’t for the good pass my teammate gave, we wouldn’t have gotten to the end and they could have taken the ball away and made it not possible for us to have a shot to win. We know that we have more to practice on with them [Winterboro] and we’ll meet them again in the Area Tournament.”
TC Central started the game with a strong first quarter, jumping out to a 7-3 lead following a 3-pointer by Duncan. However, Winterboro battled back to cut the lead to 8-7 by the end of the first quarter and eventually gained the lead 17-13 at the half.
Whenever Winterboro seemed poised to gain a big lead, TC Central fought their way back into the game. When Winterboro gained a 22-16 advantage, TC Central battled back to the game at 22-22 after Duncan made a difficult jumper over the arms of an outstretched defender and Savona Garrett made a two-point shot in the post.
Winterboro had a 34-33 lead in the fourth quarter when Duncan hustled after a loose rebound and made a close-range two point shot to give TC Central their first lead of the second half, 35-34.
On the ensuing Winterboro possession, Anslea Twymon drove to the basket and hit a two-point shot to give Winterboro all it needed to win, 36-35.
Despite the loss, coach Duncan said he was proud of his team’s effort.
“She’s just a competitor,” he said of Duncan’s performance. “Just like all the girls, they just compete. Like I tell them, you might not shoot 75% every night, but you can hustle and play hard every night. They gave me the effort that I asked for and we just came up short. When you’re playing a team such as Winterboro, they’re a good basketball team. I feel like our girls came out and gave a wonderful effort.”
Smith said he wasn’t at all surprised to be given such a difficult time by a fierce rival.
“TC really brought it to us tonight,” he said. “It’s your typical Winterboro-TC rivalry game. I’m not surprised by the excitement at the end, the excitement during the game. I’m not surprised by it at all. Coach Duncan, in my opinion, is one of the master motivators.”
Anslea Twymon finished with a game-high 14 points, while teammate Nadia Estelle contributed seven points.
For TC Central, Tiarrial Duncan led the way with 11 points, while Savona Garrett also finished with 11 points. Destinee Garrett chipped in seven points.
Coach Duncan thinks the experience of the game will be good for his team, just as the high-stakes Area Tournament is coming into focus.
“In a long season like this you have ups and downs,” he said. “I feel like we’re kind of reaching our peak right now at a good time, getting ready for the area tournament. We kind of changed speeds as the season goes, we went into a little slump a couple weeks ago but we’re just going to keep working hard and see where it turns out.”