Third time is not a charm for Darlington against Wilson
By Drake Horton
The Darlington Falcons’ magical season came to end this past Friday night against an all-too-familiar foe, the Wilson Tigers, by a score of 64-57 in the 4A lower-state championship at the Florence Civic Center.
Heading into the game, the Falcons had already beaten Wilson twice this year, both come-from-behind wins that helped propel Darlington to not only an impressive 24-3 record heading into the game, but an outright region championship that no one, outside of maybe a few in Darlington, had thought the Falcons could win.
Now all that stood in the way of the Falcons completing an improbable run to the state championship game was a team they had already beaten twice, but sometimes the hardest thing in sports is to beat the same opponent three times in a row and on this night that proved to be true.
“I think we came out too jacked up, to be honest,” Darlington head coach Anthony Heilbronn said. “We were so loose; sometimes I think you can be too loose, and I think that is how we started.”
The Falcons may have been the hottest shooting team in the state, having hit 26 three-pointers in their last two games, but a two-three zone by the Tigers, who have exceptional length, were able to force Darlington into what might have been its worst shooting game of the year.
“That pressure, their 2-2-1 (defense) was just to slow us down, it didn’t cause turnovers for us, but them sitting in that 2-3 (defense); they’re long, especially in the corners, with (Darius) Boatwright at 6-(foot)-6 and Allen (Williamson) at 6-(foot)-4,” Heilbronn said. “It is tough to shoot over that and that is a credit to Derrick (McQueen) and the Wilson coaching staff, they did a good job. The games that we lost were zone.”
Against Wilson, the Falcons missed layup after layup and had jump shot after jump shot hit all over the rim, but just never go in. Darlington hit only four three-pointers the whole game and the first one did not come until second quarter by Ty Johnson.
Darlington had a horrible start to the game in the first quarter, going almost four minutes into the game before scoring a single point and the start of the second quarter was not much better.
But while the start of the second quarter was poor, the finish was fantastic with the Falcons going on an 8-0 run and cutting an 11-point deficit to just three as the buzzer sounded for the half.
Unfortunately for Darlington, however, it was not able to capitalize on the momentum it gained at the end of the second quarter. Instead, the Falcons came out flat, letting Wilson start the quarter off on a 12-3 run, headed by the Tigers’ Allen Williamson, who scored all 12 of the points.
“We couldn’t overcome it tonight,” Heilbronn said. “He made those shots and we didn’t respond.”
That run was just too much for Darlington to overcome. Multiple times in the fourth quarter, including in the final minute, the Falcons trimmed Wilson’s lead to five, but they were never able to get any closer.
Senior Kenynon Scott finished the game as the Falcons’ leading scorer with 21 points, but hit zero shots from behind the arc despite being the leading three-pointer shooter for the team.
Wilson led the entire game from start to finish. Darlington finishes the year 24-4 overall.