Falcons complete impressive regular season; Lady Falcons drop to 5th in region
By Drake Horton
The Darlington Falcons got revenge against the North Myrtle Beach Chiefs while the Darlington Lady Falcons let another game slip through their fingertips at home Feb. 5.
Darlington (boys) 58, North Myrtle Beach (boys) 43
Heading into the final game of the regular season, Darlington posted a very impressive 21-3 overall record, with the one thing those three losses having in common is the fact that the Falcons never broke 60 points.
That changed against North Myrtle Beach, as the Falcons avenged their lone region loss of the season, defeating the Chiefs 58-43, to improve to 22-3 overall.
Playing loose and confident, Darlington impressed its home crowd in the first half holding an 11-point lead while committing only two fouls as a team. The Falcons did not commit their first team foul until the 2:05 mark and committed only six for the entire game.
“Yeah, I don’t know if it’s clean basketball or if it’s the referees letting us play, but we will take it either way,” Darlington boys’ head coach Anthony Heilbronn said.
Coming out of the half, however, Darlington struggled mightily shooting, but Kenynon Scott drained a three with 4:17 left in the third, the first points of the second half for the Falcons and Heilbronn, which he has done multiple times this season, called what ended up being a perfect timeout.
Following the timeout, Darlington reasserted itself offensively and by the time the quarter had ended the Falcons had pushed their lead back to 11.
“I get picked on all the time by my staff; I’m just like Coach Howle, I don’t like to call timeouts,” Heilbronn said. “I hold them, apparently I think I get a bonus for taking them home, I try to save them for situations like that when you need to burn one. I mean we were still up, but I didn’t want to lose control, so I burned one, we kind of readjusted, made a little tweak and just kept going.”
A big reason in Darlington being able to adjust and make small tweaks is the depth that sits on the bench. As it has been for a majority of the season, the Falcons are notorious for wearing their opponents down and taking over in the second half. Against the Chiefs, Heilbronn used that formula again.
“Between Peanut (Brian Robinson), Malike (Cooper), Adrian (Pooler), we have guards, Tre’Quan coming off the bench now,” Heilbronn said. “Tre wasn’t in it mentally tonight and we knew that; that was why, in the second half, we didn’t even go with him, gave Peanut a look, gave Malike a look and again, as other teams try to stay with us running, they wear their better guys down. They know their bench isn’t as deep, whereas we can trust our bench to go and give us two or three minutes here and there and it’s all we need to refresh our guys.”
Senior De’Ondre Graham was the surprise leading scorer of the night for the Falcons, leading the way with 16.
With the regular season wrapped up, the Falcons now turn their attention to the playoffs. Due to certain circumstances, Darlington is getting a bye in the first round of the playoffs and will begin its quest for a state championship at home this Saturday night against the winner of the Bluffton vs Brookland-Cayce game at 7 p.m.
Darlington (girls) 31, North Myrtle Beach (girls) 36
The Lady Falcons ended their regular season on a sour note, dropping from fourth to an at-large bid in the playoffs with the five-point loss to the Lady Chiefs.
As has been the story for Darlington a lot this year, it has been competitive with a majority of the teams it has played, but it has just not been able to seal the deal.
“That is a really good team,” Darlington girls’ head coach Brad Knox said. “We lost by five points, lost a close one to Hartsville by four the other night. We were hoping that some of the returners would step up, step up and make good decisions.”
After a poor showing in the first quarter that made North Myrtle Beach appear to be more physical, the Lady Falcons did a role reversal, holding the Lady Chiefs to just two points to take a 13-12 lead into the locker room at the half.
The lead was short-lived; however, as the Lady Falcons continued to struggle to find any real rhythm offensively and while North Myrtle Beach was not shooting that great either, it was able to just make enough when it needed it.
Darlington got to within four late in the fourth quarter, but missed opportunities ended any chance of the Lady Falcons coming back for the win.
“We have to make better decisions in a lot of late game situations and we have to have kids step up; they have to step up,” Knox said. “We can do our part as coaches, but players have to play.”
The Lady Falcons go on the road to take on Hilton Head Feb. 15.