A.C. Flora coach Joshua Staley had a number of reasons to be concerned going into the Falcons’ first-round Class 4A playoff game with Lugoff-Elgin.
Staley felt the Demons weren’t a typical four seed and had a trio of guards that, if they got hot from the outside, could give his squad trouble. A.C. Flora used a tenacious defense to wipe that concern away quickly and cruised to a 67-52 victory Wednesday night.
The Falcons (17-6) will host Stall, a 78-71 winner against Myrtle Beach, on Saturday.
“We were extremely concerned about Lugoff-Elgin,” Staley said. “We knew they had very good guards and were coached very well. We wanted to come out and keep them uncomfortable and stick to the game plan as much as possible.”
All-state selections DJ Sinkler and Zack Folks led the way offensively with 17 and 12 points, respectively. But it was the defense that forced the Demons into turnovers that turned into easy baskets for A.C. Flora.
The Falcons pressure forced Lugoff-Elgin (16-8) into 13 first half turnovers and only 5-of-22 shooting from the field. The Demons scored the first basket, but the Falcons scored the next 17 points to lead 17-2 after one quarter. The lead was up to 37-15 by the half.
“It was very important,” Staley said of the early lead. “I knew if they were sticking around, it was going to be a dogfight down the stretch. We were fortunate to get up early.”
Lugoff-Elgin coach Garrett Knight thought the defensive pressure was the difference.
“The biggest thing is they killed us in the half-court in the first half. Their man-to-man pressure was tough on us,” Knight said. “We got off to a slow start because of their tenacity.”
The lead was as many as 32 at one point but the Demons scored 25 points in the final quarter to make it respectable. Arturo Sealy led the way with 20 points.
The other concern Staley had was the Falcons were playing for the first time without Carolinas Classic all-star selction, Diamante Brown. The senior is out for a minimum of two weeks. Brown is suspended by the South Carolina High School League rules after drawing his second ejection of the season in the final regular-season game.
But behind the play of Sinkler and Folks and a guard rotation that featured Matt Jamison and Quincey Riley and forward Daniel Finney, the concern of not having Brown was short-lived.
“These guys have been working hard since the spring, and I trust every last one of them,” Staley said. “I knew we were going to be fine because that situation was out of our control. The guys regrouped and busted their tail and came out with a win.”
LE – Arturo Sealy 20, Salmond 8, Shilhavy 6, Manigo 5, Johnson 4, Hinton 4, Cobb 3, Roberson 2, Gary 2. ACF – DJ Sinkler 17, Zack Folks 12, Finney 8, Riley 5, Boyce 5, Jamison 4, Mobley 4, McCray 4, Airel 4, Gibson 2, Green 2.