The Keenan Raiders advanced to the Class 2A quarterfinals with a 72-65 victory against Cheraw on Monday.
Keenan led 38-22 at the break, but Cheraw closed the gap. With 1:43 to go, Derry McIvan hit a long jumper that cut the Braves’ deficit to five points.
But Keenan kept the ball in its court to close out the game.
“In the second half, we just did enough to get by but didn’t really put them away,” coach Zach Norris said. “They did enough to survive, and that is what we needed.”
Norris was pleased with the way the Raiders controlled the game in the first half, keeping Cheraw’s Justin Chapman and Rashad Merriman, who each average 14 points for the Braves, from taking the momentum early.
Chapman was held to three points in the first half, and Merriman put up six. Meanwhile, Keenan’s Eric Hopkins posted 16 points, with four 3-pointers, and Charles Smith added 13.
In the second half, the Raiders lost some of their spark.
Norris attributed the slowdown partially to the shuffled schedule, as the game had been postponed from Saturday due to anticipated snowfall.
“I think that affected us some, because we ended up practicing that day, and they were on fire then,” Norris said.
Still, the Raiders never fell out of rhythm and were ready when Cheraw (16-7) rallied in the third quarter.
“Cheraw did a real good job of playing games with us, and I told them, if they let (Chapman) get loose, we were going to have problems,” Norris said.
Merriman posted 12 points in the second half, bolstered by eight free throws, and finished with 21 points. Chapman knocked down three 3-pointers in the fourth period to keep the Braves within striking distance and finished with 19 points.
Hopkins finished with a game-high 25 points while Marcus Stroman had 10 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.
The Raiders (20-5) will host Indian Land on Wednesday.