Raiders advance to state semifinals

ainelson@thestate.comFebruary 20, 2013 

It’s back to Greenville for the Keenan Raiders. The Raiders advanced to the semifinals of the Class 2A boys basketball tournament by defeating Indian Land 86-76 at home on Wednesday.

“Getting back to the Bi-Lo Center means a lot,” said coach Zach Norris, whose team is 22-5. “It feels good because last year we kind of cheated ourselves.”

Ousted from last year’s tournament in the third round, the Raiders played with determination on Wednesday and were bolstered by 25-34 free throw shooting in the fourth quarter.

“I told them, championship teams knock down free throws,” Norris said.

The Raiders were having trouble getting away from the Warriors in the first half as Rakym Field posted 19 of his game-leading 42 points.

“We know we can score with our team, but I wouldn’t want to have to play him again,” Norris said. “We ran a couple of different guys at him and played games with him until we found something that worked, and the zone really helped slow him down.”

But the Raiders hardly could be comfortable.

Although they trailed 37-30 at halftime, the Warriors would not stay far behind.

Indian Land gave the Raiders little room in transition and outrebounded Keenan early in the third, with three second-chance buckets that nearly erased their deficit in the first four minutes of the half.

But with 39 seconds left in the third, Jaquan Allen spun to the basket for a layup, then added a putback bucket at the buzzer to stake the Raiders to a 54-49 lead going into the final period.

With four minutes remaining, Keenan held a 6-point lead.

Then Marcus Stroman went 8-of-8 from the line in 40 seconds to stretch the Raiders’ lead to 12.

Stroman led the Raiders with 24 points, while Eric Hopkins had 22 and Allen added 19.

Keenan will play Newberry on Saturday at Greenville’s Bi-Lo Center.

K: Marcus Stroman 24, Gathers 3, Johnson 2, Charles Smith 16, Eric Hopkins 22, Jaquan Allen 19. IL: Sawyer 8, McCall 4, Butler 2, Darnell Roger 20, Rakym Field 42.

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