By Thomas Grant Jr.
“We wanted some payback.”
That was all the motivation Gray Collegiate head coach Dion Bethea needed to inspire his boys’ basketball team Friday night at Brookland-Cayce High School.
The War Eagles were facing Providence Day in the American Bracket final of the Cayce Roundball Classic. It was six years ago that the Chargers defeated them 77-71 in overtime at the American Division final of the Chick-fil-A Classic.
This time around, it was Gray Collegiate who left with the trophy following a 48-43 victory over the Chargers.
“They beat us back in the day, but this one right here was really good,” Bethea said. “The guys and the coaches did a great job. We just went out there and performed. I’m so happy for the kids and the staff. Really happy.”
Ty’Quan McDuffie had a game-high 12 points and All-tournament selection Trey Maddox scored eight of his 11 points in the second half.
Braylhan Thomas finished with 10 points in earning tournament MVP honors.
“The key tonight was just being solid every possession,” Thomas said. “Just play every possession. Mess up or win, just keep playing. Our coaches did good in practice in being able to keep us focused and disciplined and that’s worked for us.”
Defense propelled the War Eagles to victory. They held the Chargers to 41.2 percent from the field and their second lowest point total for the second time this season.
“Every year for us and I’m going to say this, people talk about everybody else from a defensive standpoint,” Bethea said. “But our program and our success speaks for itself. From a defensive standpoint, we’re like that. We guard people and sit down and make stuff happen.”
It was a low-scoring first half despite four ties and six lead changes. Gray Collegiate led as many as five points in the second quarter before Providence Day ended the first half on a 6-0 run to take a 21-19 lead into the locker room.
All-Tournament selections Trajan Thompson and Nick Hailey both finished with 11 points and Jonah Lawrence added 10.
Points continue to come at a premium in the third quarter as the two teams combined for 12 points in the first four minutes. Once again, Maddox provided a spark with six straight points to regain the lead for the War Eagles.
“Trey hung in there,” Bethea said. “He didn’t play well in the first half. I think he made like one three. But in the second half, he ended up stepping up and just stayed in there and made some big plays for us.”
A 3-pointer by McDuffie gave Gray Collegiate a 32-28 lead entering the fourth quarter. The War Eagles’ defense continued to stifle the Chargers as they built their biggest lead at 41-31 with 4:25 left.
Providence Day fought back with six unanswered points to get within four points. A 3-pointer by Maddox and slam dunk by Ellis Graham helped end the Chargers’ comeback hopes.
North Augusta 61, Cross Creek (Ga.) 59
A.C. Flora 56, Brookland-Cayce 48
William Williard and Robert Johnson each scored 13 points to lead the Falcons over the Bearcats.
Isaiah Gore led all scorers with 17 points, Will Young added 15 points and A.J. Edwards finished with nine for Brookland-Cayce.
Marion 59, Sumter 53
Lancaster 69, Hiram (Ga.) 65
A year after winning the American Bracket, the Bruins claimed the National Bracket title led by two-time tournament MVP Jordan Watford’s 33 points, 14 rebounds and six steals.
R.J. Brown had 10 points for Lancaster, which withstood a late rally by Hiram. Malik Tinsley was also named to the All-Tournament team.
All-tournament selection Chase Tyler had 18 points, Jaiden Mann finished with 14 points, University of Southern California tight end commit Walter Matthew scored 11 points and seven rebounds, and another All-Tournament selection Ryan Williams added 10.
Greer 61, New Hampstead (Ga.) 59
Mikey Williams scored a game-high 30 points, fellow All-Tournament selection Amare Anderson had 14 and Bradyn Durrah added 10 to lead the Yellow Jackets and head coach and former Lexington captain Devin Liferidge to victory.
Toland Daudhtrey had 20 points and RaShawn Truell finished with 18 for New Hampstead.
Spring Valley 44, Lower Richland 39
Caleb Temoney scored 18 points and Jordan Burgess finished with 12 points and three steals to lead the Vikings.
Alex Atkinson posted a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds for the Diamond-Hornets.
Oceanside Collegiate 92, Camden 66