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Sumter hoops teams fend off Marion

Halfway through the third quarter, it looked as if the 3A No. 1 Sumter County Wildcats might be in danger of suffering a major upset at the hands of the Francis Marion Rams. Consider that danger very, very much averted.

Back-to-back three-pointers by Marion’s Kevin Curry cut a one-time 13-point Sumter lead to 26-25 with 4:40 left in the third quarter. But the Wildcats turned up the defensive pressure and scored 33 of the contest’s final 42 points, running away with a 59-34 home victory.

With the win, Sumter improves to 4-0 in 3A Area 6 and 18-1 overall. Francis Marion falls to 4-1 in area play.

The state’s defending 3A champions looked to be running away with the game after finishing the first quarter with a 17-4 lead. All-State senior Larry Foster finished the period with seven points, including two on an attempted alley-oop dunk at the end of the quarter which bounced high into the air before dropping through the net.

But Marion wasn’t done yet. The Ram defense stiffened, holding Foster scoreless and the Wildcats to only five second quarter points. Back-to-back Antonio Collins baskets cut the deficit to 22-17 before a Devan Dunnican jumper with :03 left in the half brought the visitors within three at the break.

Curry’s three-pointers cut the Sumter advantage to a single point, but the Wildcats would not give up their lead. A pair of Cameron Ezell baskets over the next two minutes sandwiched two Foster free throws, quickly pushing the lead back to seven.

Foster then drained a buzzer-beating three at the end of the quarter to stretch the lead to 43-32. The demoralized Rams made little push in the fourth quarter as the Wildcat defense held Marion without a field goal for the final 9:25 of the game.

Sumter was led by Foster’s 16 points. He was joined in double figures by Ezell and Cordarro Law, who scored 11 and 10 respectively. Patrick Delaine added 8 points, KeAndre Cunningham 7, Jeremy Watson 3, and Cardarrin Wilson and Cornelius Ward with 2 each for the Wildcats.

Curry led the Ram effort with 14 points, including four three-pointers. He was followed by Collins with 7, Jonathan Anderson with 6, Dunnican with 5,

and Justin Johnson with 2.

After Sumter County travels to West Blocton Tuesday, the two teams will meet again Friday in Marion.

Sumter County girls 53, Francis Marion 48

In a tense back-and-forth battle for the lead of 3A Area 5, the Lady Wildcats scored the final six points of the game to claim a hard-fought victory.

After trailing 13-4 after the first quarter, the visiting Lady Rams went on an 11-0 run capped by a Jamie Morton basket to start the second quarter. From there the game reached the half tied at 19 and see-sawed between the two teams throughout the second half. Marion took a five-point lead at 30-25 with 3:50 remaining in the third quarter on a Sierra Moore three, but the Lady Wildcats fought back and tied it at 36 on Crystal Brown’s basket with 7:17 left in the game.

Two Moore free throws with 4:11 remaining gave the Lady Rams a 48-47 lead, but Marion point guard and leading scorer Quineshia Arrington fouled out soon afterwards and without their floor leader the Lady Rams would not score again. A Nicole Ward basket gave Sumter back the lead before a progression of free throws and solid defense sealed the win.

Center Rekina Crawford led the Lady Wildcats with 15 points, followed by Tenesia Ruffin’s 10, Ward’s 9, Brown’s 8, Patricia Delaine’s 4, Porsha Johnson’s 4, and Monique Ivy’s 2.

Marion’s Moore led all scorers with 17 points in the losing effort. Arrington added 15, Morton 8. Jaleesa Jackson 4, Ieshia Wright 2, and Mikya Sims 2.