If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
That essentially was the strategy for Tishaun Williams and Michael Rhodes, using their strength and athleticism against the Orangeburg-Wilkinson Bruinettes heading into Round 2 of T&D High School H-O-R-S-E after Deriante Jenkins and Austin Lawton took the opening game of the series.
With the possibility of falling behind 2-0 to the Lake Marion boys lingering, Erin Houser and Amari Grevious had to find a way to keep their team in it.
“I knew my team had very strong shooters compared to Lake Marion,” Houser said. “So I wasn’t worried.”
With O-W taking the first shot of the round, the Bruinettes had a key advantage in trying to create a stalemate in the series, but Lake Marion was able to match the Bruinettes shot for shot during the early portion of the round. Although the Bruinettes managed to consistently knock down shots, the Gators felt no pressure.
“We tried not to think about pressure,” Rhodes said. “If we thought about it, we would miss our shots.”
Throughout the round, the Bruinettes elected to stick with midrange jump shots near the free throw line. The shots weren’t complicated, but they were enough to help the Gators pick up their first letter of the round.
“We just wanted to use our strong points to beat Lake Marion,” Houser said. “We didn’t want to do anything wild or crazy. We just wanted to play a simple game of H-O-R-S-E and not make it too complicated.”
To even the round, Williams made an acrobatic reverse layup forcing Houser’s hand in completing the feat. Unfortunately for the home team, she was not able to and both teams found themselves with one letter apiece.
“We tried to make hard shots that we thought they couldn’t make,” Williams said when asked about his team’s strategy. “We thought they couldn’t do it, but they still did it.”
Michael Rhodes applied more pressure on O-W by sinking a shot near the Bruinettes’ bench area. With Grevious unable to make the shot, O-W was three letters away from falling behind 2-0 in the series.
But the Bruinettes didn’t panic.
Grevious and Houser stuck to their plan of shooting from near the free-throw line and it paid off. Misfires by Williams and Rhodes from less-difficult spots suddenly tied the series and gave the Bruinettes new life heading into Round 3.
“It gave us a lot of confidence,” Grevious said. “Knowing that we could beat them in that round, we knew we would do it again with kind of the same strategy.”