LITTLE RIVER — With his team’s season on the line, Alvin Walker wanted his players to give their full effort.
And at one point, the Georgetown boys basketball coach demonstrated just how to do that.
After a scrum for a loose ball, an animated Walker proceeded to dive to the floor to illustrate the type of passion he wanted out of his team, firing up his Bulldogs as they went on to a 53-49 victory over St. James to clinch the fourth playoff spot out of Region VII-AAA.
It was a win that saved the Bulldogs’ season after being forced into a play-in game with the Sharks on Friday night at neutral site North Myrtle Beach High.
“With heart [how his team played ]” Walker said, barely finishing the sentence while shedding a tear. “The only thing I asked them was, win, lose or draw, to leave everything on the court. That’s all I ask. I told them before the game, I can accept that. Whatever the outcome is. Even if we had lost that game, I would have been hurt but I would’ve been able to accept that.
“I thought they left everything on the floor; those guys fought, and fought, and fought.”
Fight they did, as the Bulldogs rallied from a significant deficit early in the game to take over the momentum. When the action slowed on the court, it persisted full swing on the sidelines, as Walker cheered his team, coached them up and provided leadership.
It wasn’t an easy task, as both teams remembered to bring their cheering sections.
St. James fans, notorious for traveling in high numbers and adorning themselves in bright colors, some in costume, didn’t plan on making it easy for the Bulldogs. Yet, Georgetown fired right back with an evenly matched fan base of their own.
However, it was Walker’s antics that stole the show. And on Friday he provided his best performance in front of a loud, packed gym.
“I told my guys, I felt like we were away tonight,” Walker said. “With how far we had to travel, and I thought it was tough on our guys because St. James was right down the street last night, at Socastee, and we were at Wilson all the way in Florence and then we had to come all the way back today to North Myrtle Beach. So I thought it was tough on our guys. The one thing I preach to them … adversity.
“I love when the fans come like that and rock the gym like that; I love that hostile environment, because when you get that ‘W’… it tastes better. The win just feels better, in a gym where everybody’s just going at you. We take that kind of attitude.”
It doesn’t get much easier as the Bulldogs will travel to Hartsville on Tuesday, when Georgetown will take on the top-seeded Red Foxes.
Walker says the grind of the regular season has prepared his team for this moment.
“Our whole region is filled with quality teams,” Walker concluded. “You fight in this game, and you fight to get to the No. 1 team in the state. I say let’s go for it.”
• ST. JAMES (49) – Dukes 1, Hurston 2, Duggan 14, Stafford 5, Hurston 2, Strange 16, Holmes 2, Sansbury 4
• GEORGETOWN (53) – Dae’quan Gibson 13, Stepfon Cuttino 9, A.J. Walker 10, Anthon Blair 12, Charlie McGirt 7
• 3-point goals: St. James 4 (Duggan 1, Stafford 1, Strange 2), Georgetown 2 (Gibson 1, Cuttino). Team fouls: St. James 20, Georgetown 17. Fouled out: None. Technical fouls: None.
• Records: Georgetown 16-10