Falcons soar past Eagles to claim tournament championship
By Drake Horton, Contributing Writer
Behind Jalian Smith’s 19 points, the Darlington Falcons obliterated the Central Eagles and claimed the inaugural Darlington Falcons Holiday Tournament championship this past Tuesday, December 20.
Smith, a member of the all-tournament team and the tournament’s MVP, kicked the game off with a three-pointer from the top of the key and from there it was business as usual as the Falcons never trailed in the game, cruising to a 93-50 victory.
Out of the gate Darlington showed it was by far the superior team, opening the game on a 9-2 run and adding an 11-2 run midway through the opening period.
The Falcons were sluggish to start the second quarter, but while the start was weak the finish was strong and Darlington went into the locker room up 44-27 after closing out the second quarter scoring eight of the final 10 points of the period.
With a 17 point lead to start the third quarter there was little doubt that Darlington would go on to win, but if there was that put to rest as the Falcons came out blistering in the third quarter.
“We wanted to keep our tempo as fast as we can, we didn’t think they could keep up with it,” Darlington boys’ head coach Ken Howle said.
Led by Kris’shawn Hickman, Darlington’s other all-tournament team member, the Falcons busted the game wide open in the third quarter, opening the period on a 17-0 run to increase the lead to 34. During the run Hickman scored eight of the 17 points, including two field goals from long distance.
And while the Falcons were soaring on offense, the Eagles never left their nest. Central did not score its first points of the second half until the 4:43 mark in the third period and only scored seven points total in the quarter; two field goals and three free throws.
By the time the run was over Darlington, just like it did back on December 12 against Lamar, began to empty its bench, allowing others to gain more valuable experience that helps build depth for later in the season.
“Our guys are playing hard, sharing the basketball and we are building our depth,” Howle said. “We have some injuries that we have to deal with right now. Tre’Quan has an ankle, Rodney has a foot problem and Chubby (Javorius Williams) came down with an ankle so we have some issues so we are going to have to give them some time off.”
Darlington now looks to win its second holiday tournament of the year as it gets ready to play in this week’s Pepsi Carolina Classic; hosted at West Florence December 26-29.
“I certainly hope it gives us some momentum going into the Pepsi Tournament this week,” Howle said.
In the opening game of the inaugural four-team tournament, the Falcons defeated the Latta Vikings by a score 80-53.
Latta jumped on the Falcons 16-12 by the end of the first quarter, but an 11-point advantage in the second and 17-point advantage in the third helped Darlington put the game out of reach.
Smith was the Falcons leading scorer in the game with 17 points.
Little Caesars Invitational
While the Falcons were doing their thing at home, the Lady Falcons were in South Florence participating in the Little Caesars Invitational.
As the defending champions of the tournament the Lady Falcons went in with high expectations, but a bad draw in the opening round against Sumter put them behind the eight ball and instead they ended up playing Cheraw for fifth place.
But despite the disappointment, the Lady Falcons did not let the questionable seeding or opening night loss derail the tournament for them as they rebounded beating Cheraw 66-29 this past Wednesday.
Prior to the win over Cheraw, the Lady Falcons defeated Lamar 36-18. It is the third time Darlington has beat the Lady Silver Foxes this season.
Darlington’s only loss in the tournament came at the hands of Sumter by a score of 40-27 on the opening night.
The Lady Falcons are now 9-4 overall after the completion of the Little Caesars Invitational.