GREENVILLE — The varsity boys of Newberry High School defeated Indian Land on Saturday to win the Upper State Championship, setting up a rematch from last year’s AA championship game as the defending champion Lake Marion Gators bring their squad to Colonial Life Arena. The final score was 80-66.
“They played well and I am so proud of them,” Head Coach Chad Cary said. “Our experience helped tremendously today with nine seniors.”
The varsity boys team returned home to a cheering crowd and brief celebration, but now the focus is on avenging last year’s loss to Lake Marion High, which defeated NHS last year in front of a South Carolina high school basketball record of over 17,000 people.
The Bulldogs (25-4) were relentless on defense and used their long arms to deflect passes and disrupt the Indian Land offense. The Dogs used their quickness to overcome a size disadvantage by denying entry passes and creating turnovers.
Cary said his team rebounded well and denied the Warriors second chance opportunities.
“We knew if we were going to win that we had to keep them off the glass,” he said. “And Dominique and Jaylen played really well inside for us.”
Cary had his offensive players attack the basket hard and eventually that led to the Indian Land big men getting into foul trouble in the second half.
Although NHS led 37-33 at the half, Indian Land narrowed the gap to 43-42. Then Trey Gary threw down a dunk with 1:41 left that energized the Bulldogs. A runner by Trey Miller pushed the lead to 51-45.
Notorious Booker hit a 3 at the buzzer to put the dogs up 56-47 heading into the final frame.
By then the momentum had shifted to NHS and once the Dogs sank their teeth into the Warriors, they were not about to let them back into the game.
Devin Harmon hit a clutch three with 5:45 remaining and the Dogs led 61-47.
Indian Land had one more run in them but the determined seniors led the Dog’s back to the AA state championship game.
Assistant Coach Adonis Hill said this win was wonderful for the nine seniors.
“This group did everything we asked of them. They are great kids and we are hopeful that the third time will be the charm,” Hill said.
Darnelle Rogers, the diminutive but talented Indian Land point guard, used speed to his advantage to pour in nine second quarter points and pull his team within four at the half, 37-33.
The Bulldogs put the game away in the fourth quarter by hitting from the free throw line. NHS made 14 trips to the line in the fourth and hit 11 of them.
Trey Miller led the Newberry scoring with 18 points, although the senior did not make a single three-pointer. Miller drove to the lane and drew fouls.
Notorious Booker scored 16 points in the first three quarters, Jaylen Lindsay scored 12 while Dominic Gilmore also ended the night in double digits with 11. Bennett Wilson and Raquon Davenport each scored nine points and Devin Harmon chipped in three.
Game time Saturday will be around 4 p.m. Tickets will be available starting Tuesday morning at the front office of Newberry High School.