After not having to deal with high expectations for much of the season, the Spring Valley boys’ basketball team began the playoffs as a No. 1 seed, ranked for the first time, and had homecourt advantage.
The nerves and jitters might have gotten the best of the Vikings in the first two-and-half quarters against Byrnes. But led by a strong second half from Joshua Felder and Nicolas Doctor, Spring Valley held off the Rebels, 52-48 on Wednesday in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs.
Spring Valley hosts Mauldin in the second round Saturday.
“They normally play better the first half,” Spring Valley coach Perry Dozier said of Doctor and Felder. “They came in when we needed it, and champions find a way to win. And those kids, they found a way to win.”
Spring Valley was coming off an emotional win Friday at Blythewood to win the Region 4-5A title. The Vikings moved up to No. 6 in the Class 5A poll but hardly looked like that team in the first half.
Spring Valley scored just 14 points in the first half and was down 27-20 in the third quarter.
“We were a number one seed so no one expected us to go home early,” Felder said. “So we had to come out and finish strong to keep our homecourt advantage.”
After going scoreless in the first half, Felder and Doctor combined for 27 of the team’s 38 points in the second half. Felder had 12 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter as the Vikings turned things around. The all-region performer’s three-point play gave Spring Valley its first lead of the second half at 38-35 with 3:46 left.
Doctor scored on back-to-back possessions as Spring Valley’s lead grew to 47-41 with 53 seconds left. Clay Cox’s 3-pointer got the Rebels within 48-46 with 17 seconds left.
Antwann Moore’s free throw gave the Vikings a 49-46 lead. With a chance to tie, Byrnes missed a 3-pointer but put back the rebound with three seconds left. But the Rebels were whistled for a technical foul after they called timeout and didn’t have any left.
Spring Valley hit three free throws to seal the game.
“We didn’t play well but I’ve got a lot of guys that hadn’t played in the playoffs before. So hope we got the jitters out of the way, can come out and play basketball for the next game,” Dozier said.
B: Mack 4, Moore 7, Clay Cox 10, Thiele 2, Burris 10, Gillum 5, Canty 2, Poole. SV: Joshua Felder 14, Nicolas Doctor 13, Roberson 7, Moore 9, Tolbert 9, Wright 2, Neal 2.