WINTERBORO – Winterboro’s boys high school basketball team squeaked by Wadley 48-47 on Tuesday after Marcus McMeans scored the game-winning basket in the final 30 seconds.
Down 47-46, Winterboro missed a free throw, and as a Wadley player hustled to the ball in an effort to keep it in-bounds, he inadvertently sent the ball into the hands of McMeans, who was wide open just to the right of the basket.
McMeans’ shot extended Winterboro’s win streak to seven games.
“Number one, my respect and my hat goes off to (Wadley) Coach (Logan) Cofield,” said Winterboro coach Sheroderick Smith, who scouted Cofield’s team earlier in the season. “It’s hard when you’ve been beating a team by so-many-amount of points over the years, (because) our kids still think they’re that same team.
“I stressed (to my team), went over it and stressed and stressed again that Wadley is a fast team. They proved it tonight.
“Wadley came down here to get an upset and a key area win. They outplayed us tonight. We underestimated Wadley from the start all the way to the last 30 seconds. That was the only time we really just had some urgency.
“You can’t do that – not in our area. Wadley has a good team, and they played their hearts out tonight to end up losing by one. Wadley did come out and make a difference. I don’t feel like we shot the ball well, but we didn’t answer the energy bell as well.”
Smith’s candid assessment of his team’s performance was spot-on.
Winterboro (8-4) trailed for all but two minutes of the game, and midway through the third quarter, faced a 10-point deficit after Wadley (1-7) went on a 10-2 run, making the score 35-25.
“We were in a situation to where, sometimes our shots do fall, and we got away from the game plan as far as getting to the basket,” Smith said. “But I’ve got to do a better job with our zone offense, so I’m going to take the blame for that as far as getting down.
“Sometimes, when you know your guys can shoot, you want to rely on that, but I need to get back to the drawing board and work on our zone offense.”
Winterboro’s resurgence began in the second half of the third quarter. By the start of the fourth, Smith’s squad had closed the gap to 39-36.
Quentin Hale led Winterboro with 13 points. He also pulled down four boards, made one assist and came away with two steals.
Tae Graham finished with 12 points and added eight rebounds, one steal and three blocked shots.
“Quinton is the heart of the team – he’s the heart and the heartbeat,” Smith said. “Tae is more of the veins and the brains. You need both, and they do things differently. Tae’s getting to the glass, and I feel like in any zone offense, he can get to the glass about 90 percent of the time. The things he did tonight were great.
“(Quinton) played a smarter basketball game than he’s played the whole year. We’re still trying to put all the pieces together, but Tae makes big plays like that. We expect that for where we’re trying to go.”
The bulk of Wadley’s points came from Quay Drake, who scored 22, and Trent Belcher, who scored 14.
Cofield said he didn’t fault his players for the last-second breakdown, applauding their effort and hustle, and attributing the loss to the ball not bouncing their way.
“It’s tough, especially against Winterboro,” he said. “Winterboro’s a great basketball team, and always will be a great basketball team.
“The problem with us is we’re young. We’ve got a lot of freshmen and sophomores who don’t know how to finish yet … We’ve got to learn how to finish and we’ve got to teach them how to finish.
“I just keep telling them to just keep playing the game. You’re human. Bad things are going to happen. If you keep playing the game, good things will happen to you. I’m proud of my guys and how they competed tonight.”
Contact Shane Dunaway via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @DailyHome_Shane.