Falcons beat Hartsville for third time this year as Lady Falcons drop a close one
By Drake Horton
It was a split affair this past Friday night in Hartsville as the Darlington boys’ basketball team made it three in a row of the Red Foxes while the Hartsville girls picked up a much-needed win, splitting the season series with the Lady Falcons.
Darlington (boys) 64, Hartsville (boys) 53
Pride can be a driving force for anyone and the Falcons used every bit of their pride to put together a complete domination of their archrival, beating the Red Foxes for the third time this season.
On Jan. 31, Darlington clinched the Region Six 4A championship with a rather easy 64-39 win over the Marlboro County Bulldogs. With that win, the last two games on the Falcons’ schedule, a road game against Hartsville and a home game against North Myrtle Beach have absolutely no meaning when it comes to playoffs and seeding.
But just because these games, especially a rivalry game as big as Hartsville, might not have any meaning to playoffs does not mean they are meaningless to the players on the Falcons’ roster.
“Anytime you play Hartsville, it’s personal,” Darlington boys’ head coach Anthony Heilbronn said after the game. “For me, the rivalry — I’m not from here, but I’ve embraced it, being in it now for some years, they just don’t like each other. Win or lose, you never want to lose to your rival. Like you said, the game didn’t matter, but for us it did matter; we weren’t going to lose to them.”
Having already beat Hartsville twice this season, once in West Florence for the Pepsi Classic and the other time in Darlington, the Falcons now attempted to complete the sweep on the road in Hartsville.
Behind Ty Johnson, who finished the night as Darlington’s leading scorer with 17, the Falcons completed the sweep, winning 64-53.
After a close first quarter that saw Darlington hold just a four-point lead, the Falcons switched to another gear in the second quarter, holding Hartsville’s offense to just four points while increasing their lead to nine at the half.
Quietly, Hartsville and star point guard Tre Hannibal cut the Falcons lead down to just six at 47-41, but Darlington regrouped and stretched its lead to 11 by the end of the quarter. The fourth quarter was nothing more than a trade of baskets for both teams as each scored 17 points apiece.
From the hot start at the beginning of the game to give the Falcons the lead to the transition offense that helped Darlington extend its lead, Heilbronn had a lot to be happy about after the game.
“Honestly, I love the three for three to start on threes,” Heilbronn said. “I mean that was boom, boom, boom and it was three different players. I thought we shot the ball well early and then later we were just able to get out and run a little bit, some transition.”
The Falcons are now a very impressive 21-3 overall and 8-1 in the region.
Darlington (girls) 38, Hartsville (girls) 42
Hartsville had a game plan going into its game against the Lady Falcons: Shoot lots of threes.
And shoot lots of threes is exactly what the Lady Red Foxes did, and while they might have missed a lot of those three-point attempts, they made enough as they were able to squeak by with a 42-38 win over the Lady Falcons.
Offensively, it was a tough night for both teams, but for Darlington the offensive struggles were a little worse, especially around the rim as the Lady Falcons missed a large portion of their layup attempts.
Despite losing by only four points, it felt like the game was much more lopsided with the three-point shooting of Hartsville, but while the Lady Red Foxes made their fair share of threes, they missed their fair share as well and it was those misses that let the Lady Falcons stay in the game.
But while Darlington was able to stay close it was never able to fully close the gap. The Lady Falcons led only twice for the entire game, a 1-0 lead and 3-2 lead before Hartsville led for the rest of the way.
Late in the fourth, Darlington had its chance, but missed free throws, layups and turnovers were just too much.
“We knew coming into the game that it was going to be a hostile environment, but I was proud of how we fought,” Darlington girls’ head coach Brad Knox said. “You know we could have laid down, we cut the lead in half, but we just missed a lot of layups and you just can’t do that when you are really trying to come back, but I was proud of the effort and we will continue to improve. It’s still not over for us.”