WINNSBORO — Richard Winn Academy’s varsity boys basketball team gave visiting Spartanburg Day all it could handle Friday night but came up just short, losing by four points in overtime, 60-56.
The Eagles sent it to overtime thanks to free throw shooting and clutch defense. RWA did not hit the panic button late in the game when Spartanburg Day’s Terrence Peeler hit a three-pointer from NBA range to put his school up by one.
Instead, the boys ran their offense and drew a foul. After RWA hit one of two from the line, the game was tied with seconds remaining.
The Griffins tried to hold for the final shot, but a tenacious RWA defense proved too much as the Eagles forced a turnover with 6.6 seconds remaining. RWA pushed the ball up the court but a last second jumper missed.
In overtime the teams continued to battle back and forth and the score was tied with a minute remaining. At that point, a Griffin was fouled and made both free throws to take a two-point lead.
RWA missed a shot on its next possession and then had to foul as time was running out in over time. At that point, Spartanburg Day hit both free throws to put the game away.
Patrick Pope led RWA with 33 points, his second consecutive game scoring over 20. He made 13 field goals including one three pointer. Jason Branham added 13 assists in what Pitt called an excellent floor game. Joseph Goldin led RWA with 12 rebounds. Cameron Cooper had 10 for the Eagles.
“Most of the time the opposition focuses on stopping Cameron shooting 3-pointers but in the second half they had to readjust to stop Pat,” said RWA Head Coach Joe Pitt. “Pat put us on his back and carried us scoring-wise.”
Pitt said the team continued to give good effort in the defeat and that he is encouraged that shots are beginning to fall.
“This game could have gone either way. We’ve gotta learn to win those kind of games (now). it’s part of growth and maturity for these players,” he said.
RWA was up two points at halftime. Pitt said Spartanburg Day hit clutch three pointers in the fourth quarter. That performance went against his scouting report, because he said he was not sure they had that kind of outside shooting consistently.
Pitt said Pope finally is rounding into his own.
“He has learned how to be a basketball player rather than just a good athlete playing basketball, particularly with his decision making,” Pitt said.
Pope’s good decisions have led to increased confidence that the coach says is at the heart of his scoring streak.
For the game the teams were even in rebounds. Pitt said the rebounding was better overall, with Pope adding four boards and Gunnar Hensley coming of the bench to grab six rebounds. Mason Gibbons added five boards.
RWA was not sure at press time if snowy weather forecasts would lead to its Tuesday game being rescheduled.