GREENVILLE — The Newberry Bulldogs won their third straight 2A Uppr State championship in a gritty 78-66 win over Indian Land (20-5) Saturday afternoon at Bon Secours Wellness Arena.
A 9-0 unanswered scoring streak to end the third quarter doomed the Warriors to just their fifth loss all year, but one that ends the careers of five Indian Land seniors one game short of the state final.
Powered by nine seniors, coach Chad Cary’s team (25-4) will look to avenge two years of state final heartbreak in Colonial Life Arena next Saturday in Columbia.
“When I saw (Indian Land’s) roster and saw ‘sophomore, sophomore, sophomore,’ it just gets different,” Carey said. “My guys, they’ve been battle-tested. It’s been the most stressful year for me, but this group works so hard, believes in each other, and we’ll try to get a ring for these seniors now.”
Down four at the half, Indian Land’s sophomore point guard Darnell Rogers (27 points) put the team on his back to score two straight layups and set up Quantra Taylor for a basket with three minutes left in the third quarter. Taylor’s score gave Indian Land its first lead of the game.
It would prove short-lived when Notorious Booker’s deep 3-pointer capped a 9-0 spurt of Newberry’s own to enter the final frame with the Bulldogs leading by nine.
“When they came out of the third quarter, they were real gassed,” Carey said. “(Rogers) is the toughest little son of a gun I’ve seen, though. I’d take him to war any day. He’d definitely play for my college team if I had one.”
Newberry’s defense made it difficult for the Warriors to operate on offense. Whenever Rogers attempted to squeeze a pass into post men Lee McCall or Derries Hampton, the long arms and legs of 6-3 Dominic Gilmore (11 points) would get in the way, leading to easy buckets for Booker (16 points) on the other end.
“We had way too many turnovers,” said coach Nate Smith. “We didn’t execute and on a stage like this, big time players have to step up.”
McCall and Morton combined to pull Indian Land within 11 with three minutes to go, but Newberry got hot at the right time from the free throw line, sinking 11 of their last 14 attempts.
Newberry 78, Indian Land 66
NEWBERRY Notorious Booker 16, Jaylen Lindsay 12, Wilson 9, Harmon 3, Davenport 9, Dominic Gilmore 11, Trey Miller 18. INDIAN LAND Darnell Rogers 27, Damien Foreman 17, Lee McCall 7, Derries Hampton 6, Taylor 4, Morton 3, Barnes 2
Team fouls: NHS 15; IL 20; Foul shooting: NHS 16-27; IL 14-19; 3-point shooting: NHS 4 (Booker 2, Davenport 1, Harmon 1); IL 4 (Rogers 2, Morton 1, Foreman 1); Team records: NHS 25-4; IL 20-5