INDIAN LAND — Only four players on Nate Smith’s Indian Land team had played any minutes in a playoff game coming into Thursday night’s first-round tip against visiting Eau Claire.
By the end of the night, each man on Smith’s deep bench was playing valuable minutes in a 76-44 rout.
Behind an explosive 29-point second quarter, Indian Land (18-4) dominated the Shamrocks (7-13) on both sides of the ball, setting up a matchup versus rivals Fairfield-Central on Saturday night. Both squads met last year in the second round, which ended in an 11-point victory for the Warriors.
Head coach Smith wants to see more of the same this time around.
“We played them here on this court last year and I hope this time, it’s better,” Smith said. “They’re a real good team, but with our student section and our fan base, I know they’ll lead us to victory. They bring us up when we’re down.”
Which, admittedly, hasn’t been often. In Indian Land’s four losses, the Warriors have lost by just more than six points each game, meaning Smith’s crew has been able to keep things tight in tough situations.
Last night was not one of those tough situations.
Darnell Rogers (24 points) embarrassed opposing guard Glenn Allen early in the second quarter. On two straight possessions, the diminutive point guard filched the ball from Allen as he attempted to advance it across half court before finishing easy layups. Rogers’ second trey of the night, with two minutes before half, was part of an 8-0 unanswered run by Indian Land heading into the break up by 26.
Coming out of the locker room, both teams struggled to get back in offensive gear until the fourth quarter when Smith began cycling bench players in to rest starters Lee McCall (18 points) and Derries Hampton (6 points).
Rogers suffered a cut on his shooting thumb halfway through the fourth and would not return for the remainder of the game.
“It’s just a cut, but it shows the depth we had,” Smith said. “(Mark) Morton, Hampton, they really stepped up when I needed them to. Any given night, they know what’s at stake.”
The team will hope to have everyone fresh and healthy as it takes they take on a visiting Griffins team (18-7) that has won seven of its last eight contests. Tip is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Indian Land High School. Admission is $6.
Indian Land 76, Eau Claire 44
EAU CLAIRE 44 Terrence Goodwin 6, Chris Dwyer 15, Keith McNeil 8, Wallace Green 6, LaMondre Corley 4, Chavasse Smith 2, Jordan Thompson 1, Sterling Egleston 2, Marquis Taylor 1, Isaac Bonnette 2; INDIAN LAND 76 Darnell Rogers 24, Brandon Sellers 2, Lee McCall 18, Mark Morton 2, Derries Hampton 6, Quantra Taylor 4, Brandon Barnes 4, Damien Foreman 6, Mike Webb 3, Ravon Dixon 2, Mark Truesdale 2
Team fouls: EC 20; IL 16; Foul shooting: EC 13-19; IL 17-29; 3-point shooting: EC 6 (McNeil 2, Goodwin 2, Green 2); IL 4 (Rogers 3, Webb 1); Team records: EC 7-13; IL 18-4.