The Eau Claire faithful were singing and dancing early in the fourth quarter of Saturday night’s game at Broome.
They sensed it was over, and they were correct.
Eau Claire allowed only eight points in the second half and cruised past Broome 59-29 in the second round of the 2A state playoffs. Eau Claire will face the Woodruff/Indian Land winner at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
“Only having a couple of days to prepare for a team that we know nothing about, we just decided to stick with what we do and that’s our defense,” Eau Claire coach Lamont Britt said. “The third quarter has always been our worst quarter, and I challenged my guys tonight.”
Eau Claire (17-6) surrendered only two points in the third quarter. The Shamrocks outscored the Centurions (17-9) 11-2 in the third.
“This is very disappointing,” Broome first-year coach Ben Martin said. “We did the hard work by winning the region to get a second-round home game, and my guys just didn’t come out and play. Two points in any quarter in varsity basketball just won’t do it.”
A.J. Caldwell scored a game-high 23 points for Eau Claire. Marquis Lyles added 10.
Jimel Feaster hit a 3-pointer with 4:41 left in the second quarter to pull Broome to within 24-16, but the Centurions wouldn’t get any closer.
Greg Honeycutt scored a team-high nine points for Broome. Chase Henry had seven.
“You never expect to lose like that,” said Honeycutt, a senior. “It’s just hard.”
“It’s rough going out like that,” said Nick Crocker, a senior. “We’ve become a family over the course of the year.”
Eau Claire led 35-21 at the half and 16-11 after the first quarter.
“We didn’t come out to play in the second half,” said Henry, a senior. “I guess we thought it was over at halftime.”