Monday, March 3, 2014
FLORENCE — The Hemingway boys' return to Columbia will have to wait another season. Whale Branch used its size and a fourth-quarter run to defeat the Tigers 69-62 on Saturday in the Class A lower state championship.
Whale Branch will make its second straight trip to the state championship and play C.A. Johnson next Saturday at The Colonial Life Arena.
"They are a physical team and we didn't box out," Hemingway coach Barry McFadden said. “They got a bunch of putbacks in the third and fourth quarters. We didn't box out on the backside. If we were able to box out and keep them off the boards, it might have been a different game."
David Lamb led Whale Branch with 22 points. Jay Middleton added 17 points and Justin Rhode had 15.
The Warriors played without Simeon and Michael Middleton. The two brothers are Seventh Day Adventists who observe the Sabbath from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday and don't play basketball.
Jay Middleton made up for his cousins' absence, especially in the fourth quarter. He scored 10 of his 17 points in the fourth and also finished with 11 rebounds.
"They didn't have a Jay Middleton and we did. He helped neutralize their big men," Whale Branch coach Linc Lyles said.
The Warriors trailed by as many as six points in the third quarter but took a 49-47 lead into the fourth. After Hemingway's Demetris Hampton tied it 49-49 to begin the fourth quarter, Whale Branch went on an 8-0 run to take a 57-49 lead.
Hemingway got within 66-62 with 32 seconds left but the Warriors hit three free throws to seal the win.
Dontre Mack had 11 points to lead Hemingway. Clarence Jones added 10, nine in the third quarter.
It was Hemingway's first lower state trip since winning it all in 2010. From 2003-10, the Tigers played in six state championship games, winning it all in 2003 and 2010.
Hemingway, which lost in the first round of the playoffs last season, will lose just five seniors.
"We got young kids and our JV went undefeated, so we are going to be back for the next couple years," McFadden said.
Hampton 8, McKelvey 8, M. Hampton 3, Thomas 6, Mack 11, Jones 10, Pressley 2, Williams 8, Frierson 4.