Mental mistakes and poor execution doom Falcons, Lady Falcons run out of time in the fourth

By Drake Horton, Contributing Writer

Hartsville – It was a road trip disaster for both the Darlington boys’ and girls’ basketball teams has both Falcons and Lady Falcons fell victim to the hands of the Hartsville boys’ and girls’ basketball teams.

Darlington 53, Hartsville 62 (boys)

Heading into its game against the Hartsville Red Foxes this past Friday the path the win the region championship was pretty simple for Darlington: win the next three games, including this one, and the championship is a lock.

Now, after losing 62-53 on the road to the Red Foxes the Falcons’ path to the region championship becomes a little cloudier.
Darlington can still win out and claim a share of the region championship, but to earn that all important one-seed in the playoffs the Falcons are going to need to beat Lakewood at home this coming Thursday by at least 12 points barring some type of upset that the Gators fall victim to before that game.

Having already beaten the Red Foxes at home this season, Darlington headed to Hartsville looking to complete the season sweep and for one half it looked like that was quite the possibility.

Down by just two at the end of the first quarter and by just three at the half, both teams went back and forth, but there was trend that was beginning to come to light for Darlington and it was not a good one.

The first was one that the Falcons have battled all year and that is making free throws. Darlington was getting to the line, but it was failing to convert. The second, however, was one that was more concerning.

A major component to the Falcons offense is the three-point shot and in the first half Darlington had made only one three-pointer and that was back in the first quarter.

The second half was just a disaster for the Falcons. In the third quarter Hartsville began to distance itself as Darlington began to miss layups and rotate late on defense allowing the Red Foxes to convert three-point plays as a result of fouling on the made shots.
“We played hard, but they (Hartsville) have some great athletes here,” Darlington boys head coach Ken Howle said.

Down by ten going to start the fourth quarter, Darlington opened up on a 6-0 run, cutting the Red Foxes lead to just four, but with the score 46-42 in favor of Hartsville, Darlington’s Jalian Smith got called for a personal foul and technical foul all in one resulting in a six-point possession for the Red Foxes.

That was not the only mental mistake of the fourth quarter for Darlington. Later in the quarter Rodney Goodman was whistled for an intentional foul that resulted in a four-point possession for Hartsville.

With Darlington struggling to score over Hartsville’s size to go along with 50 percent shooting from the free throw line those mistakes were just too much to overcome.

“Scoring against that size is just a challenge for us,” Howle said.

Jamean Muldrow led the Falcons in scoring with 12 points and Kenynon Scott had 10.

Hartsville’s Trae Hannibal, who was a non-factor in the first game between these two teams, had a game high 22 points.

Darlington 42, Hartsville 49 (girls)

Twice it looked like the Hartsville Lady Red Foxes were going to walk away from Darlington and twice the Lady Falcons came soaring back to make what had the looks of being a blowout into a close game.

Despite the comeback efforts of Darlington, however, Hartsville was still able to hold on to victory, winning 49-42.

“We just chipped at the lead and cut it close and we thought we should have pulled it off at the end,” Darlington girls’ head coach Brad Knox said. “We just have to continue to fight.”

The first quarter was close with Hartsville holding just a one-point advantage, but it was a different story in the second quarter as the Lady Falcons scored only two points compared to the Lady Red Foxes’ 10 points.

Coming out of the half, the third quarter was a quarter in which each team had a big run. Darlington kick started the quarter going on a 10-1 run to tie the game at 24, but Hartsville answered that with a 13-0 run of its own and by the time the third period ended the Lady Red Foxes had extended their lead to 12 points.

With the game looking to be out of reach, the Lady Falcons dug deep and went on another run, this time eight to two to cut the lead to just three. That was as close as Darlington would get, however, as Hartsville scored the final four points to close the game out.

“It was a hard fought game,” Hartsville girls’ head coach Tammy Gibson said. “Whenever Hartsville and Darlington play it’s a dog fight so to say, but I am just glad that the girls were able to hang in there and get the win.”

Author: Duane Childers

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