Hillcrest’s Austin Calwile (2) knocks the ball from Easley’s Jake Gardner (4) Tuesday, January 13, 2014 at Easley High.
EASLEY – Hillcrest kept at its game Tuesday night and eventually gained control to pull away for an important 66-45 Region 1-AAAA win over Easley.
The Green Wave made it tough on the second-ranked Rams (13-2, 5-0), leading after one period and trailing by just four points at halftime.
As the game wore on, however, Hillcrest picked up baskets with its transition game, while Easley went into a drought during which it couldn’t finish shots from the perimeter or under the basket.
“Give Easley credit,” Hillcrest coach Reggie Choplin said. “We knew they’d be excited to play tonight.
“The first half was really competitive. We were fortunate to get some easy baskets in transition that kind of opened it up some.”
Easley point guard Kamm Valentine hit a 3-pointer to cut Hillcrest’s lead to 31-29 with 6:44 to go in the third period. Austin Calwile matched that three, though, and Randall Shaw and Darius White followed with layups that stretched the Rams lead out to nine at the 5:35 mark.
From there, Easley’s baskets didn’t come as frequently as Hillcrest’s, and the Rams led by 12 after three quarters.
“We go through those lapses where we don’t score,” said Easley coach Grant Stallard. “Against a team like Hillcrest, you can’t go three or four minutes without scoring.”
Down eight early, Hakeim Warren and Marcus Hood combined for 11 points to lift Easley to a 16-15 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Rams built a seven-point advantage in the second period, but the Green Wave cut it to 29-25 at halftime.
Shaw and White scored 18 points apiece to lead the Rams, while Calwile scored 10 of his 15 in the third quarter. Valentine scored all his team-high 14 points in the second half. Warren added 13 for the Green Wave (7-7, 2-3).
•The Hillcrest girls overcame an Easley rally in the third quarter and went on to a 59-43 victory.
Trailing 31-18 at halftime, the Green Wave broke out with a 14-2 run that cut Hillcrest’s lead to 33-32 with 3:34 to go in the third quarter.
The Rams, however, scored 10 unanswered points to pull away for the win.