With Wilson Hall paying the Indians a visit Tuesday night, Orangeburg Prep head coach Rip Ripley and his players knew that they had to come away with a win in order to keep their hopes of winning the region title alive.
The problem was the Indians hadn’t beaten Wilson Hall in basketball in nearly 12 years. Add to that the Indians’ struggles in recent games and it could have easily been put together as the recipe for a loss for OPS. However, the Indians were able to ignore history and put their past struggles behind them to come away with a 44-39 win.
“It was a huge win,” Ripley said. “Our defense struggled a little bit lately. We’ve had some close games not go our way. It feels awesome tonight to go our way this close.”
The Indians (15-9, 2-2) were able to avoid starting off slowly as Kyle Stokes and Derek Andrews combined to score seven of the team’s first-quarter points. Wilson Hall (12-8, 3-1) countered the Indians’ attack, spreading their defense out to knock down a few jumpers, including two 3-pointers. Led by Sharp Turner, the Barons were able to take a 13-11 lead.
“I thought we were in a little groove offensively,” Barons head coach Eddie Talley said. “We moved the ball pretty well and we made shots. After that first quarter though, credit OP’s defense. They were very aggressive tonight.”
The OPS defense turned things around and clamped down on the Barons in the second quarter. Wilson Hall’s offense could not find answers for the stifling defense as the Barons could only come up with six points in the quarter while totaling 12 turnovers. Meanwhile, Stokes continued to push the Indians forward. The senior guard finished the first half with eight points as the Indians finished the first 16 minutes of play with a 22-19 advantage.
“In the pregame tonight, we challenged the guys a little bit, challenged their effort, challenged their heart a little bit and wanted to see them come out here and prove that they wanted this thing,” Ripley said. “We knew we are capable of playing with teams like this, but just because you’re capable doesn’t mean you’re going to do it. So, we challenged them and I think Kyle stepped up for us and led that charge tonight.”
The third quarter wasn’t as kind to the Barons either as they only converted two field goals and two free throws against OPS. Just like their first two quarters of play, the Indians posted 11 points to take a 33-25 lead into the final quarter of play.
“We tried to do a lot of one-on-one,” Talley said, “and that’s not our team. We’ve got to move the ball and we’ve got to look out for each other. I really thought, in the second and third quarters, we were doing too much one-on-one and that’s not our strength.”
Orangeburg Prep increased their lead to 35-25 with 7:51 left to play, giving them their largest lead of the night, but that lead did not last very long. Turner got hot from the field, scoring 10 of his game-high 17 in the quarter, helping Wilson Hall cut the lead to 36-32 with 4:27 to go.
“Sharp’s a senior,” Talley noted. “I didn’t think Sharp played particularly well this year. He’s played well for us. Tonight wasn’t one of his better games, but down the stretch, we got the ball to him in some good positions and he was able to finish.”
A 3-pointer with 1:12 left to play made it a 42-39 game, but that would be as close as the Barons would get as Derek Andrews put the game away as he slipped behind the defense to score the final points on a layup.
While the win is a big one for the Indians, Ripley knows that the road to a region title is still a long one and they’ll look to hone their skills when they face Bamberg-Ehrhardt today.
“This is a huge team victory for us,” Ripley said, “but this time last season, we had a huge win over Laurence Manning in our region. They went on to win state. We got really excited and we peaked too early. We just challenged the guys just a second ago that we need to understand that we’ve proven we can play with these teams. Now, it’s on us to keep growing, to continue pushing, to continue building to, hopefully, exceed our expectations.”
Prior to the boys’ game, the Lady Indians tallied their 17th win with a 46-32 victory over Wilson Hall.
“It’s a big win for us because we knew that, when we lost to them at their place,” Lady Indians head coach Jan Stoudenmire said, “we knew that when they came back to our place, we had to make sure that we took advantage of that. There are still a lot of region games left. We’ve got to make sure we finish strong and we’re playing well at the right time.”
Julia Bonnette scored 11 points in the second half on her way to finishing with a game-high 16 points in the win.
“Julia is a determined young lady,” Stoudenmire said. “Against Laurence Manning the other night, she ended up with a double-double. Tonight, she probably had six or seven steals against a very good offensive-minded team and a good fundamental team. She’s been in the program a long time. She knows what it takes to win. She listens. She just does what it takes to win.”
Elizabeth Rheney had nine points while Cassidy Hills and Ali Stephens added to the winning effort with seven points each.
OPS (44) — Chris Hudson 10, Murray 9, Andrews 9, Stokes 9, Trimmier 3, Mirmow 2, McCurry 2.
WH (39) — Sharp Turner 17, Bochette 6, W. Kinney 4, Clinkscales 3, Pannell 3, Brabham 2, Duffy 2, Holstein 2.
OPS (46) — Julia Bonnette 16, Rheney 9, Hills 7, Stephens 7, Robinson 4, Mims 3.
WH (32) — Hannah Jordan 10, Scott 6, Smoak 4, Hall 4, Munn 4, Alderman 2, Wells 2.
See Davanian Murray’s postgame interview at TheTandD.com/preps. Contact the writer: firstname.lastname@example.org or 803-533-5532.