High School Basketball

Zion rising: Spartanburg Day superstar has record day at Chick-fil-A Classic

Highlights: Zion Williamson's 53-point performance at Chick-fil-A Classic

Spartanburg Day's Zion Williamson scored 53 points Tuesday in the 73-53 win over Gray Collegiate in the Chick-fil-A Classic.
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Spartanburg Day's Zion Williamson scored 53 points Tuesday in the 73-53 win over Gray Collegiate in the Chick-fil-A Classic.

Zion Williamson decided not to participate in the slam dunk contest at the Chick-fil-A Classic this week.

That’s fine because Williamson put on a show that brought the sold-out crowd at Richland Northeast High School to its feet from warm-ups and they didn’t sit down much during the game. The junior phenom poured in a career-high and tournament-record 53 points in the 73-53 win over Gray Collegiate Tuesday night, the opening night of the event.

Williamson’s 53 points beat the previous record of 45 set by former Dreher standout Tevin Mack. Spartanburg Day will face Keenan in semifinals of the National Division on Thursday at 8:30 p.m.

“I see him do amazing things every day in practice, so to do what he did tonight, it doesn’t surprise me,” Spartanburg Day coach Lee Sartor said. “He is such a competitor. And you normally don’t get a kid with the work ethic and basketball skills he has all in one. And when you get that, you have Zion Williamson. And I think everybody is happy what they saw tonight.”

Williamson was like a rockstar after the game with kids lining up for pictures and autographs after he went through media interviews.

Fans lined up almost 3½ hours before Williamson and Spartanburg Day took the floor in one of the most anticipated games in tournament history. The crowd included elite college basketball coaches, including North Carolina’s Roy Williams, South Carolina’s Frank Martin and Clemson’s Brad Brownell. They’re heavily recruiting Williamson, along with most top-flight programs in the country.

None of those in attendance left cheated as Williamson stole the show from the opening tip when he slammed home an alley-oop.

“I tried not to feed into the energy too much,” Williamson said. “I tried to go out and play my game and help the team win.”

Williamson was 25-for-28 from the field and his only misses came from 3-point range. He also grabbed 16 rebounds, matching his season average.

Williamson wasn’t the only high-profile player in the matchup with Gray Collegiate, which features North Carolina signee Jalek Felton and sophomore Juwan Gary. Williamson said Felton, who he knows from the Pee Dee region of the state, is always trying to get him to go to North Carolina.

Gary and Felton took turns guarding Williamson, who’s the No. 2 ranked junior in the country. No one had any success.

“Attacking the basket was working for me the whole game,” Williamson said.

Williamson’s performance was the second big moment in Columbia in the past five days. His windmill alley-oop against Ben Lippen on Friday made SportsCenter’s No. 1 play that night. Judging by Tuesday’s performance, it won’t be the last.

Felton led Gray Collegiate (3-4) with 19 points. Gray will play A.C. Flora in a loser’s bracket game Thursday.

Zion Williamson and coach Lee Sartor discuss Spartanburg Day's 73-53 win over Gray Collegiate at Chick-fil-A Classic.

SDS: Williamson 53, M. Brown 4, Lindsay 8, Richardson 4, Tracy 4. GC: Jalek Felton 19, Juwan Gary 14, Marsh 4, Bruner 2, K. Robinson 3, Cooke 5, Fields 4, J. Robinson 2.

Chick-fil-A Classic Schedule

National Division

Tuesday

Game 2: Keenan 62, A.C. Flora 55

Game 4: Spartanburg Day 73, Gray Collegiate 53

Wednesday

Game 7: Greensboro Day (NC) vs. Hamilton Heights (Tenn.). 3 p.m.

Game 11: Oldsmar Christian (Fla.) vs. La Lumiere (Ind), 6:10 p.m.

Thursday

Game 18: Greensboro Day/Hamilton Heights loser vs. Oldsmar Christian/La Lumiere loser, 4:55 p.m. (auxiliary gym)

Game 21: Greensboro Day/Hamilton Heights winner vs. Oldsmar Christian/La Lumiere winner, 7 p.m.

Game 22: A.C. Flora vs. Gray Collegiate, 8 p.m.

Game 23: Keenan vs. Spartanburg Day, 8:30 p.m.

Friday

Game 24: Game 18 loser vs. Game 22 loser, 12:30 p.m. (auxiliary gym)

Game 27: Game 18 winner vs. Game 22 winner, 2 p.m.

Game 29: Game 21 loser vs. Game 23 loser, 5:10 p.m.

Game 31: National Division championship, 8:30 p.m.

American Division

Wednesday

Game 5: Providence Day (NC) vs. John Carroll (Md.), noon

Game 6: Cannon (NC) vs. Wheeler (Ga.), 1:30 p.m.

Game 9: Porter-Gaud vs. Blythewood, 4:40 p.m.

Game 13: Westlake (Ga.) vs. Lafayette Christian (La.), 7:40 p.m.

Thursday

Game 14: Cannon-Wheeler loser vs. PG-Blythewood loser, 1:50 p.m. (auxiliary gym)

Game 16: Providence Day/John Carroll loser vs. Westlake/Lafayette Christian loser, 3:20 p.m.

Game 17: Providence Day/John Carroll winner vs. Westlake/Lafayette Christian, 3:50 p.m.

Game 19: Cannon-Wheeler winner vs. PG-Blythewood winner, 5:25 p.m.

Friday

Game 25: Game 14 loser vs. Game 16 loser, 12:30 p.m.

Game 26: Game 14 winner vs. Game 16 winner, 2 p.m. (auxiliary gym)

Game 28: Game 17 loser vs. Game 19 loser, 3:40 p.m.

Game 30: American Division championship, 6:15 p.m.

Game 31: National Division championship, 8:30 p.m.

Carolina Classic Schedule

Auxiliary gym

Tuesday

Dutch Fork 62, Richland Northeast 48

Lower Richland 67, Heathwood Hall 62

Wednesday

Dutch Fork vs. Heathwood Hall, 4:30 p.m.

Charlotte Christian (NC) vs. Cardinal Newman, 6 p.m.

Richland Northeast vs. Liberty County (Ga.), 7:30 p.m.

Thursday

Liberty County (Ga.) vs. Charlotte Christian (NC), 2:25 p.m.

Cardinal Newman vs. Lower Richland, 6:25 p.m.

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