By Kevin Melton, firstname.lastname@example.org
Not everyone got in to see the air show that was taking place in the night cap of the Farm Bureau Insurance Classic.
Dorman Arena was sold out two hours prior to the highly-anticipated boys basketball contest between Spartanburg Day and Pelham (Ala.) on Wednesday night. The game featured the state’s top prospect in Griffins guard/forward Zion Williason and the Panthers’ Alex Reese, who will play at Alabama.
Williamson didn’t disappoint the masses, dropping a game-high 42 points, which included several monster dunks, to lead Spartanburg Day to a 76-67 win in the Bojangles Bracket of the tournament. He was 18-of-20 from the floor.
The Griffins will face Keenan, a 48-45 winner against host Dorman, at 7 tonight. Keenan won by three points in its meeting against the Griffins in last week’s Chick-Fil-A Classic in Columbia.
Williamson downed back-to-back thunderous dunks, soaring from the free-throw line to the basket on the latter, to help the Griffins pull away to the win late in the fourth quarter. Prior to the dunks, Spartanburg Day held a 56-52 advantage. He finished with a double-double, adding 12 rebounds.
“I loved the crowd,” Williamson said. “(Being in) Spartanburg, my hometown, I couldn’t ask for much more. It was amazing. I don’t think I’ve experienced nothing like this.”
Williamson said that the dunks gave his team the needed boost to get the win.
“That gave us a lot of momentum,” he said. “After that second one, we knew we won the game.”
Griffins coach Lee Sartor said that Williamson gave the capacity crowd what it expected to witness.
“We’re kind of getting used to Zion putting on a show,” he said. “He does so many things well. Offensively he’s so explosive. He’s a tremendous defensive player as well. He just makes things happen.”
Spartanburg Day led 25-16 at the end of the first quarter. Williamson was already in double digits after the first eight minutes with 13 points. The Griffins held a 37-33 advantage at the half. Williamson had 19 points at the break.
Pelham closed within 54-52 at the end of the third quarter. Reese led the Panthers with 22 points, while Justin Allison added 20.
A one-handed jam by Williamson, followed by a layup from Chandler Lindsey extended the lead to 60-52 with 5:30 left in regulation. Williamson’s back-to-back slams put the game away as Spartanburg Day led 71-60 with 1:15 to go. Lindsey finished with 12 points, while Bishop Richardson added 11.
“He motivates everyone, and he excites everyone,” said Sartor of Williamson. “He gives everyone energy. …When he makes a play like that, everybody is enthused, and everybody wants to make the next play. I’ve said this before. I’m glad he’s on our team.”