The South Carolina Athletic Programs 10-and-under, Division 2, State Basketball Tournament came to the Cheraw Community Center last Saturday and the host Cheraw team captured the boys state championship, while Marion took home the state title in the girls division.
The Cheraw boys squad was not your typical host team, as this group went toe-to-toe with Hartsville, the Division 1 state runner-up, in a pre-tournament scrimmage in Hartsville and blew out Marlboro County in another practice tilt. The first game of the day pitted Cheraw against Dillon, the Eastern District champions, and this one was played before a packed and boisterous crowd. The host team came out firing on all cylinders and built a 21-9 after the first quarter of action, but Dillon refused to quit. The visitors cut the lead to 28-21 at the halftime break and they went into intermission with a lot of momentum.
Dillon then scored the first seven points of the third period to tie things up at 28-28, but the Cheraw squad took over the contest from that point. They scored the next eleven points to rebuild their lead to 39-28 before Dillon scored a basket at the end of the quarter to close the gap to 39-30 after three periods of play. Cheraw then cruised the rest of the way, breaking the Dillon full-court press and getting easy layups, to post a 53-38 victory and earn a spot in the state championship game.
Cheraw used a balanced scoring attack in the win, as Jonathan Gordon led the way with 15 points, while Marshall Myers poured in 14 points and Zion Baylor added 10 markers. Tyson Hall was next with six points, Aaron Jackson had four points, while Devin Gillespie and Jamarrie Wright each added two markers.
Seneca, the defending state runner-up, defeated Jasper County, 45-33, in the second semifinal tilt to earn its berth in the state championship game against Cheraw.
The state championship game did not start out too well for the home team, as Seneca jumped out to a quick 5-0 advantage, only a minute into the contest. Cheraw came right back though and took an 8-7 lead with 2:00 left in the first period, thanks to some strong inside play from Jonathan Gordon and Aaron Jackson, along with two steals and layups by Marshall Myers. Cheraw only had a 12-10 lead after the first quarter, but the home team really took over the contest in the second period. Seneca was only able to score six points in the second quarter, as the Cheraw 2-3 zone defense had the Upstate squad confused. Myers and Gordon led the way again on offense and the host team took a 27-16 lead into intermission.
Cheraw continued the onslaught in the third period, stretching out their lead to 39-20, before settling for a 40-25 lead after three periods of play. The host team then milked the clock for most of the final period and they made six of their ten free throws to post a 49-34 victory. Marshall Myers led the Cheraw scoring attack with 20 points, while Jonathan Gordon was next with 12 points. The inside duo of Aaron Jackson and Zion Baylor accounted for 15 more points, with Jackson scoring eight and Baylor adding seven markers. Jamarrire Wright closed out the scoring by making both of his free throw attempts in the game’s final minute.
The state championship was Cheraw’s first in basketball since 1989, when Maurice Miller, Dennis Love, and Paul Streater led the 14-and-under squad that captured the state title in Liberty.
Members of the Cheraw team are Jamarrie Wright, Tony Pegues, Devin Gillespie, David Johnson, Dwayne Wilson, Marshall Myers, Zion Baylor, Aaron Jackson, Tyson Hall, Jonathan Gordon, Saa’Jada McManus, and Tymere Stacks. Wiley White, Jay Bennett, and Vernon Skipper were the coaches for this all-star squad.
The team members and coaches would like to thank the parents and fans for their suppprt on Saturday. The loud home crowd really meant a lot to the team and their encouragement helped push this team to the title.
In the girls bracket, Mullins defeated Barnwell, 17-11, in the first semifinal game, while Marion disposed of Walhalla, 23-14, in the other semifnal tilt. Marion had won their earlier meeting with Mullins in the Eastern District title game and this time was no different, as the Lady Swamp Foxes cruised to a 30-16 win in the State Championship tilt. Marion held a slim 10-9 advantage at the halftime break, but they outscored Mullins, 20-7, in the second half to account for the final margin.