Darlington snaps skid and wins region opener
By Drake Horton
Riding a two game losing streak, the Darlington Falcons found its way back into the win column with a victory over the Lakewood Gators by a score of 73-53 this past Friday in the region six, 3A opener.
Up only 28-25 at the half, the Falcons came out of the locker room on fire outscoring the Gators 25-9 in the third quarter, including a 17-2 run to start the quarter. With a 19 point lead at the end of third quarter Darlington was able to maintain its lead en route to a 20 point victory.
“We talked to them at halftime about the first three minutes of the quarter, the third,” said Darlington boys head coach Ken Howle, on the third quarter explosion. “We put 54 points on Hartsville in the first half and got six in the third quarter and we didn’t want any of that. So I was glad we were able to get it going.”
Darlington got an array of offense from multiple players, with four Falcons scoring in double digits. Frankie Johnson led Darlington in scoring with 21 points while J.J. Jackson had 13, Jalian Smith had 12 and Marquise Green had 10.
While Johnson, Jackson and Green are seen in the scorer’s box on a regular basis it is Smith who is the newcomer and it is a welcoming sight for Falcons coaching staff.
“He’s still a freshman, 14 years old, just catching balls, but he can finish up around the basket,” Howle said on his young post player. “He’s got good touch and he has just got to grow as a basketball player.”
Smith, who is listed as the tallest player on the team, is a center for the Falcons; with Darlington struggling so much to find offense inside and having to rely on its perimeter shooting for points, having him as center will bring progress for the team.
More important than the 12 points that Smith did score, was the effectiveness of his shooting as he went 6-6 from the field.
“It’s pretty cool,” Smith, describing what was his best game of his young career at the varsity level, said after the game. “I try my hardest in practice and it shows off in the game.”
Despite the final score being so lopsided at the final buzzer, Darlington was in a dogfight for most of the game with Lakewood.
Apart from the third quarter, Darlington only outscored Lakewood by a total of four points in the other three quarters combined. Both teams were tied at 13 at the end of the first quarter while Darlington outscored the Gators by three in the second and one in the fourth.
“It was a slow paced game,” Howle said, discussing how it took Darlington a while before it finally warmed up.
The win improves Darlington to 11-4 overall, but more importantly it puts the Falcons 1-0 in region play.
Darlington played two games at home this past week and the first was the Falcons last non-conference game of the year against the South Florence Bruins on January 6.
Having already beat the Bruins once this season, Darlington was looking for season sweep, but South Florence had different plans, winning the contest 58-47.
A bad third quarter doomed the Falcons as the Bruins outscored Darlington 17-7 during that period.