The Laurens Raiders boys’ basketball team nearly saw itself get run off the floor in the home opener against the Hillcrest Rams Tuesday night, but a spirited rally saw the Raiders erase a 19-point lead and hold a one-point lead in the final 78 seconds.
But the rally ran out of gas.
Hillcrest scored eight of the last 10 points and took advantage of a late miscue by the Raiders, pulling away for a 75-70 victory at Laurens. The Raiders’ record fell to 1-3.
Laurens trailed 51-32 early in the second half after the Rams had gone on a 17-1 run that carried over from the end of the first half, but three straight 3-pointers from Dee Foster helped spark the offense – and got the crowd back into the game, too – and helped close the margin to 55-52 by the end of the third quarter.
Foster finished the game with 25 points, hitting six of the team’s 14 3-point shots.
“He’s our leader. He’s our go-to guy,” Laurens Head Coach Joshua Chavis said. “I told him and a couple of the seniors at halftime that you have to be the ones to let the other guys get some confidence.”
Hillcrest managed to maintain a slim lead for much of the fourth quarter, but Laurens pulled even at 61-all with two free throws by Dravious Copeland (17 points) with 2 minutes, 40 seconds to go, and the Raiders took the lead on a 3-pointer from J.Q. Fair with 1:18 to go.
Hillcrest took the lead back on the ensuing possession, but a Rams foul sent Leonard Williams what was to have been two free throws. However a mistake by Nigil Owens cost Williams a free-throw attempt after he stepped across the 3-point line when Williams had the ball in his hands. Williams then missed the second free throw, and Hillcrest pulled away.
Williams finished with 13 points for Laurens, which hosts Clinton Friday.
Girls: Hillcrest used a 17-3 run to close out the first half against the Raiders, setting the stage what turned into a runaway victory for the Rams, 73-42, in what was the first game of the regular season for Laurens.
Qua Fortson had nine points to lead the Raiders, while CaDayzhia Grant had six points. They were the only players to hit at least two field goals in the game for Laurens, which turned the ball over 32 times.
Crusaders swept: The Laurens Academy varsity basketball teams each were handed road losses Tuesday night against Spartanburg Christian. The LA girls lost 55-31 in their game against the Warriors, while the LA boys were handed a 73-25 loss.
In the girls’s game, the Warriors opened with a 21-2 lead through the first quarter of play and pulled away from there. Blair Quarles had 14 points to lead LA, while Reagan Williamson had 10 points. LA is now 3-2.
As for the boys, the Crusaders fell behind 21-4 through the first quarter and could never make up the difference. Caio Rita and Diamonte Grant each had six points to lead the Crusaders, who fell to 2-2.
LA hosts Greenwood Christian Friday night.