Hunter-Kinard-Tyler boys basketball coach Leon Brunson mapped a game plan that worked perfectly in the Taco Bell Classic.
The Trojans frustrated Sumter with a combination of zone and full-court pressure defense in a 71-58 victory Tuesday night in the semifinals at Keenan High School.
Not only did his plan work out, the way his team shot free throws made any thoughts of a Gamecock comeback impossible. Hunter-Kinard-Tyler, a Class A school, went 36-for-45 from the free throw line, including 23-for-26 in the fourth quarter.
"We emphasize (free throws) a lot because we teach our kids to attack the basket," Brunson said. "If you're going to attack the basket, you're going to get fouled so you have to be able to knock down your free throws."
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The Trojans (8-2) pulled away in the third quarter after a first half saw that neither team lead by more than four points. Sumter scored first in the third quarter before H-K-T went on a 7-0 run - spearheaded by a double technical foul on the Gamecocks - pushed the lead to 35-27.
They maintained that lead and never let Sumter, a Class 4A school, get than closer than six.
"We played at different tempos," Brunson said. "We tried to press them a little bit and tried to speed them up then we zoned them to see how they would react to different things. Once we got up, it was more pressure on them trying to make shots. They executed what we taught them."
Sumter coach Nate Livesay thought his team did not respond to what the Trojans threw at them.
"Our results are usually based on what we do and not being as concerned with what our opponents does and we did a poor job of doing that," Livesay said. "We were an unmotivated, unprepared team."
Reginald Edwards finished with 25 points for the Trojans, including 21-for-26 from the free throw line. D'Twane Fulmer added 18 for H-K-T.
Brunson said his team is making the most of a tournament that features a 4A school, a 3A team, two 2A teams and three out-of-state teams.
"We relish the chance to be on this type of floor and in this spotlight," Brunson said. "We are the only A team in the event so we have to make a statement for ourselves and for A basketball."
HKT: Reginald Edwards 25, D'Twane Fulmer 18, Montarus Gleaton 11, Sh. Jamison 2, Sc. Jamison 7, James 4, Perry 4. S: D.J. Coleman 11, Amos 2, Bolden 8, Rogers 5, Henderson 3, Robinson 8, Moses 9, Dunnican 6, James 6.