During Friday night’s second-rouind Class 4A girls playoff game against Goose Creek, Dutch Fork’s Alaina Coates showed why she was named to the McDonald’s All-America game this week.
The 6-foot-5 senior who is committed to South Carolina dominated the paint to the tune of 15 points and 16 rebounds, and she got plenty of help from the perimeter as the host Silver Foxes cruised to a 47-34 victory against over the Gators.
It’s fourth consecutive year Dutch Fork has advanced to at least the state quarterfinals. The Silver Foxes have won 37 games in a row dating to last year’s state title run. The Silver Foxes (26-0) will travel to Sumter for a third-round game on Monday night.
“We didn’t play our best game but we played a strong defensive game despite the fact we had a lot of fouls called on us,” Dutch Fork coach Faye Norris said. “But we’re still going to go out and play defense. That was the difference, in my mind.”
That defense put Goose Creek (20-5) on lockdown until it was too late to stage a comeback. During the first three quarters, the Gators were 6-of-32 from the field and went without a field goal the entire second quarter. Dutch Fork lead 29-17 at the half and the only reason it was that close is the visitors scored nine points from the free throw line in the period.
Goose Creek coach Tim Baldwin knew his team had to make a charge out of the locker room, but Dutch Fork had other plans. Despite the early foul trouble, the Silver Foxes sat back in a zone and limited the Gators to one shot.
Zhane Green and Coates combined to score the first 10 points of the second half, and when Morgan Williams knocked down a jumper with a little more than three minutes remaining, and the lead grew to 20 points.
“The other girls around her are good,” Baldwin said. “The guards are quick and they can shoot it. Alaina is a great player but she has plenty of great players around her, too. They are 26-0 for a reason. When you get down against them, it’s hard to come back.”
Norris thought the change in defense gave Goose Creek fits.
“We had to come off the full-court press and settle in with our half-court defense,” she said. “Basically, we were in foul trouble, and we pulled off and tried to make them spread the floor. We knew they wouldn’t take a lot of outside shots. Our defense got us what we needed to have.”
Green finished with 14 points and Williams and Sydney Shull each scored six and hit enough outside shots that the Gators couldn’t collapse the defense on Coates. Dutch Fork was 19-for-40 from the field in the opening three periods with Green hitting three 3-pointers to keep the defense honest.
“They have the confidence to take that shot because they have a strong rebounder inside,” Norris said of her guards. “They took good shots. Teams come in and try to stop the big girl but she has some good guards around her. It makes it tough.”
Coates, who was 7-of-9 from the field, was pleased as well to get the balance across the board.
“It’s good when the outside shots are falling because it makes me feel like I don’t have to depend on my post shots all the time,” Coates said. “Our guards help a tremendous amount and I don’t have to put the team on my back.”
Dutch Fork is three games from defending its state championship, and Norris feels good about where things stand.
“If we show up to play, then I feel real good,” Norris said. “I can’t lie, I feel good about our chances.”
GC – Ashley Fields 12, Frasier 5, Ludwig 5, Bishop 4, Dawson 3, Jones 3, Rivers 2. DF – Alaina Coates 15, Zhane Green 14, Shull 6, Williams 6, Daniel 4, Robinson 2.