Guards and hustle push Darlington to the victory
By Drake Horton, Contributing Writer
It was exactly what the Darlington Falcons wanted for their opening night of basketball; an electric crowd, a worthy opponent and a victory.
“Who did the scheduling to schedule them at the being of the season? Oh yeah, I think I did that, ok,” Darlington boys head coach Ken Howle said jokingly after the game. “They are very good club, they have a lot of talent,”
Behind its superb guard play and overall hustle, the Falcons were able to overcome an early deficit to defeat the West Florence Knights 65-62 this past Monday at the Falcons Nest.
“We haven’t had a great couple of weeks since football; we have just kind of been in a funk so they (Darlington) exceeded my expectations tonight,” Howle said on his team’s performance. “We started slow, but they weathered the storm.
Leading the way scoring for the Falcons was Marquis Green, who seemed to pick right up where he left off from last scoring 25 points all while displaying that silky smooth stroke from outside.
“He never gets out of season, he’s been ready to go, I would have hated to be living with him these days because I know he has been anxious about getting this game started, getting this season underway. He hit some big free throws for us.”
Out of Green’s 25 points, four of the most important came in the form of free throws when he sunk four of them with less than a minute left all while grabbing an all-important rebound between possessions of those four free throws.
“My coach called timeout said ‘big time players make big time plays,’ so I had to step up and show them I was a big time player,” Green said on what propelled him to not only play so well, but to come through in such a pressured situation.
But right along with him was the cornerstone of the Falcons program for the last four years, Frankie Johnson, who finished a double-double, scoring 15 points while grabbing 10 rebounds.
“Tonight we played well as a team, we came together,” Johnson said The coaches talked to us about playing as a team, having each other’s back and tonight we showed that we had each other’s back and the bench had a lot of energy.”
West Florence, returning almost everybody from last year’s playoff team, came out fast against the Falcons in the opening quarter going up 13-2, but a three pointer by Johnson ending the run seemed to be exactly what the Falcons needed.
From there, Darlington seemed to be just a step or so ahead of the Knights; by the time the second quarter ended, the Falcons were leading by three.
The Knights made one last push late in the fourth quarter, but for every shot that West Florence made Darlington had an answer and while it may have been the Knights that started fast it was the Falcons who finished fast.
“They play hard, we picked them (West Florence) up full court and I think that was key,” Howle said on what he believes helped push Darlington to the win. “We really hadn’t talked about doing that so when we coaches got back there we thought we would push the issue a little bit with pressure, see if we could wear them down and I think they were tired. I mean my guys were tired too, but they were tired.”
Darlington had two other games this past week, both on road, with the first against the Lamar Silver Foxes and the other against the Wilson Tigers.
The Falcons absolutely dominated the Silver Foxes this past Tuesday winning by a lopsided score of 100-19.
The third game of the week was a bit closer, but a win is a win and that is exactly what the Falcons got against Wilson, beating one of their biggest rivals on their own court this past Friday, winning 74-70.
Darlington is a perfect 3-0 on the season.
The Falcons will play South Florence on Dec. 9 and Wilson High School on Friday, Dec. 11. Both games will be held at the Falcon Nest. Friday will be Military Appreciation night.