Even without its leading scoring, Wheeler (Ga.) showed it deserved to be among the favorites to capture the Beach Ball Classic crown as it cruised to a 71-50 victory over Spring Valley in Game 3 on Wednesday.
Trevin Steede and Avery Patterson had 17 points each for the Wildcats, Daniel Giddons added 12 points and eight rebounds and Austin Smoak had 10 points.
Wheeler coach Doug Lipscomb was able to go deep into his bench even though the Wildcats were without 6-7 standout Elijah Staley, the team’s leading scoring, who is participating in an all-star football event and did not make the trip to the Grand Strand.
“I think the kids played hard, they competed,” Lipscomb said. “We played some people tonight that normally don’t get to play, so it was rewarding for them.”
Patterson had 11 of his points in the first half on a 4-of-7 effort from the floor, including 3-for-5 beyond the 3-point line. His layup with 11:44 left in the first half gave the Wildcats (7-2) their first lead of the game and helped his team build a 7-point lead at the break.
Perry Dozier, Jr. led all scorers with 18 points and had eight rebounds for the Vikings and Dominique Terry had 17 points and 11 rebounds.
That was as close as Spring Valley would get the rest of the night, but Lipscomb was still able to find room for improvement for his team.
“We’ve got to stop giving up second shots. That’s a major concern of mine. And turnovers, of course,” Lipscomb said. “…Our kids competed. We’ve just got to improve on the mental aspect.”
He said he was pleased with the result, but not satisfied. Of course, when is a coach ever satisfied? “I will be after we win the last one, Lipscomp said.
Spring Valley will face Socastee at 1:45 p.m. Thursday in a consolation bracket game, and Wheeler will face Hudson Catholic (N.J.) on Friday at 5:15 p.m. in the championship bracket.