By Kevin Melton, email@example.com
It was more workmanlike for Spartanburg Day on Thursday night.
The Griffins advanced to the championship game of the Bojangles Bracket in the Farm Bureau Insurance Classic with a 62-55 victory against Keenan at Dorman High School. Spartanburg Day (11-4) will face Newton (Ga.), a 70-52 winner against Gaston Day (N.C.) at 7 p.m. tonight.
Spartanburg Day avenged a three-point loss against the Raiders in last week’s Chick-Fil-A Classic in Columbia. It was just the second loss of the season for the Raiders (9-2).
The Griffins were led by Zion Williamson with 36 points and 17 rebounds. That followed up a 42-point performance in the first round on Wednesday night.
Williamson said that Spartanburg Day hopes to end 2016 with a tournament title.
“Each game represents different tests,” he said. “We’re going to have to use our size and strength against this team.”
Spartanburg Day was missing junior Matthew Brown due to injury. Junior guard Kyle Tracy stepped up, shooting 6-of-10 from the field and 7-of-11 from the free throw line to finish with 19 points.
Tracy said that he felt a need to play at a high level and help his team move into the championship game.
“I felt like there were keys that weren’t there for us, and somebody needed to be there to pick up the pace,” he said. “We just have to come out (Friday) with some energy and follow our game plan.”
Keenan led 9-8 after the first quarter. Tracy scored six straight points to lift the Griffins to a 14-9 advantage. He had 10 points at the half.
Spartanburg Day coach Lee Sartor said that it was encouraging to see several players stepping up.
“Keenan is a diehard basketball team,” he said. “You’re not going to beat them by thinking you can just show up and play. They play hard and do so the entire ballgame. That’s what they did. With us not having Matt and a couple more kids, we needed some kids to kindly step up. Nikell (Murphy), an eighth grader, did some good stuff. Rett (Foust) did some great stuff. Kyle was just outstanding. That’s what we need.”
A Williamson basket increased the Griffins’ lead to 38-28 with 4:36 to go in the third quarter. He added a dunk to make the score 42-31 with 2:20 left. Spartanburg Day led 43-35 going into the fourth quarter.
Keenan, playing without star player Tariq Simmons due to illness, mounted a comeback and pulled within one before back-to-back dunks by Williamson gave the Griffins enough separation to hang on for the win.
Keenan was led by Rodriguez Marshall with 27 points, while Q’Dardrius Sanders added 16.