2018-02-14 / Sports

Survive and Advance

Gaffney, Blacksburg boys prepare for tough opening round playoff matchups
By LARRY HILLIARD
Ledger Sports Editor

The Gaffney and Blacksburg boys basketball teams aren’t entering the state playoffs on a roll.

The Indians secured the No. 2 seed in Region II but lost their last two region games, including a disappointing 52-45 loss to defending state champion Dorman on Friday.

The Wildcats have slumped even more, losing their last three region games and five of their last seven.

Both teams must rebound, and do it quickly with tough opening round playoff matches today.

No. 2 seed Gaffney (17-7, 6-2), hosts third-seeded Easley (12-10, 5-3) at 7 p.m. at The Burial Ground. Blacksburg (12-9, 5-5), the fourth seed, travels to No. 1 seed Greenville Tech Charter (8-5, 4-1).

Gaffney coach Mark Huff said the Indians must shake off Friday’s game and prepare to play an athletic Greenwave team.

“There is nothing we can do about Friday’s game,” Huff said. “Friday is over. We have to get ready for the playoffs. It’s survive and advance.”

Huff described the Green Wave as very athletic with two dangerous threats.

Deandre Byrd is a 6-1 senior wing player with unlimited range.

Huff said Byrd has launched jumpers well beyond the 3-point line.

Elijah McKinney is a 6-3 post player who can play on the perimeter as well.

If the Greenwave have a weakness, it might be their size. They don’t have the inside height to match the Indians frontline of 6-9 Sadarius Bowser and 6-3 Ladarrius Foster.

The Greenwave prefer to slow the pace on defense with an effective 2-3 zone and will be opportunistic on offense, running the fast break if it’s available. In the half-court, Easley isn’t shy about shooting the three.

Gaffney must guard the 3-point line and shoot better than it has in its last game.

“We shot 32 percent against Dorman and you won’t beat a good team doing that,” Huff said.

The Indians also have turned the ball over too much, committing a combined 34 turnovers in its last two games.

Huff said a lot of the turnovers have been unforced.

The winner of today’s game will play the winner of Nation Ford and Hilcrest.

Blacksburg coach Danny Ham said the Wildcats must put the last three games behind them and realize that they played in a tough region.

“It’s a new season now,” Ham said.

(Eds. Note: Results of the Gaffney and Blacksburg girls playoff games can be found on our website.)

State Playoffs Today’s Matchups

Class 5A Opening Round Easley at Gaffney 7 p.m.

Class 2A Opening Round Blacksburg at Greenville Tech. Played at the (neutral site) Sterling School Charter 6 p.m.

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