INDIAN LAND — Call it Packers versus Bears, United States versus Canada or Carolina versus Clemson. In Warrior Country, there’s not a basketball rivalry bigger right now than Indian Land against the Keenan Raiders.
Coach Nate Smith’s boys’ team earned a crucial date with its Columbia foes by downing a feisty Fairfield Central team 71-50 Saturday night.
“You could compare this to Ali versus Frazier,” Smith said, grinning. “That’s what everybody’s gonna want to come to see.”
Indian Land sunk 15 of its last 20 free throws in the fourth quarter to ice the team’s ninth straight win. They’ll be coming up against a Keenan squad (19-6) fresh off its ninth consecutive win as well. The Raiders knocked out Indian Land in the third round of last year’s 2A playoffs.
“If we’ve gotta go through them to get this state championship, then I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Smith said.
Smith’s team had to get past the Griffins of Winnsboro first, who quickly made an impact behind 6-foot-4-inch senior Keith Workman. The guard (23 points) scored half of his team’s three-pointers and converted eight of his nine tries at the charity stripe. Fairfield-Central’s swarming defense held sophomore guard Darnell Rogers to a single field goal in the second quarter, cutting an early Warrior lead to single digits.
After the break, Indian Land’s Derries Hampton (23 points) took matters into his own hands, driving hard to the basket on three straight possessions before burying a long trey and two jumpers. His assist to big man Quantra Taylor for a resounding dunk ended the quarter with aplomb.
“There were definitely some players who came up big for us, offensively,” Smith said. “This is just another win for us and we got the players for it.”
Hampton would get consecutive layups in the fourth quarter before the visitors began fouling on each possession. Rogers (20 points) and Damien Foreman (14 points) coolly dispatched their foul shots and by the time two Griffins had fouled out, chants of “Season’s over!” rang out from Indian Land’s rowdy student section.
Smith said he believes his team can be the pride of Lancaster County as they inch one game closer to a state final in Columbia next month.
“I told the players, ‘you look at Lancaster County, they’re behind us,’” Smith said. “We want a championship for them. It’s about family, about sticking together. We’ve got a lot of mutual respect between us and [Keenan] and we’ll come to play.”
FC: 14;11;13;12- 50
IL: 22;11;19;19- 71
Individual: FC: Keith Workman 23, Dequan Weldon 3, Jalyn Davis 8, Brandon Adams 2, Daniel Maple 4, Shadarius Hopkins 7, Javahnne Neal 3 IL: Darnell Rogers 20, Lee McCall 7, D. Foreman 14, D. Hampton 23, Brandon Barnes 3
Team fouls: EC 26; IL 16
Foul shooting: EC 23-33; IL 11-14
3-point shooting: EC 6 (Workman 3, Adams 1, Neal 1, Weldon 1); IL 4 (Hampton 3, Foreman 1)
Team records: EC 19-8; IL 19-4