Originally created 02/18/99

Blackville-Hilda rolls past North



BLACKVILLE -- In high school basketball, there are no complicated mathematical formulas, coaches polls or any other astronomical measures to determine a team's postseason fate.

It's a much simpler formula and Wednesday every basketball coach in Region 4-A knew what it was as they lined up their respective teams to play for the chance to compete in this year's state playoffs.

One win in this region tournament was the ticket to move on. One loss didn't mean disaster, unless you call sitting at home while the other team competes in the state playoffs a disaster.

This very fate was at the hands of Blackville-Hilda's Hawks as they took on the North Eagles, a team they split with in the regular season. The Hawks began this year struggling, losing five of their first six games. But by Wednesday, the Hawks had done a complete 180, winning five of their last six games.

The Hawks continued the ball rolling, shooting down the Eagles 75-66, earning a state playoff birth and will face arch-rival Denmark-Olar tonight at 8:30 in the region semifinals.

North wouldn't be turned away quickly though. Blackville had home-court advantage, but it didn't matter to the Eagles as they went into half-time knotted up at 29-29.

"They're a tough team and they've given us a dog fight every time we've played them," said Hawks coach Mike Tew. "Our spirits were down early in the year but with the help of assistant coach Albert Pressley we got things going late in the season."

The Hawks must have been saving it all for the second half against North because Blackville's Andrae Williams and Nick Thomas came alive in the third quarter to spark a 19-2 run that put the Hawks ahead 48-31 with 4:16 left in the quarter.

Williams scored a game-high 28 points to lead the Hawks and Thomas added 16.

"Being the leader, I knew I had to step up," Williams said. "We knew we had to come in and play. No ifs, ands or buts about it. This was it."

The Eagles, who geared most of their defense in the first half on stopping Williams and sharp-shooter Ralph Isaac, forgot about Thomas, who made North pay in the second half.

Thomas, hit North for 10 points in the third quarter, including two critical 3-pointers that fueled the Hawks run.

"They focused their defense on Andrae and Ralph and that left Nick open," Tew added. "He's only a sophomore but he's a good shooter and he made them pay."

The Hawks got up by as many as 18 points and never looked back. The importance of the victory could best be summed up with Tew's emotional reaction toward the fans when the final buzzer sounded.

"Our biggest concern was to get to the playoffs, nothing else is important now," Tew added. "We would like to go on and win the region tournament, but our real concern has already been answered."

The Lady Eagles weren't as kind to Hunter-Kinard-Tyler, as North advanced with a 62-42 thumping of the Trojans behind the 14 points of Tara Toland and Shalonda Muller.

North faces the Lady Hawks of Blackville-Hilda today at 4 p.m. in the semifinals.

The Wagener-Salley girls also moved on, as they knocked off Williston-Elko in the early game. The Lady War Eagles face Estill tonight at 7 p.m. in the other semi-final game.

The Wagner-Salley boys were not as fortunate as they fell behind to Hunter-Kinard-Tyler 33-27 at halftime and eventually bowed out, dropping 76-66 to the Trojans.

H-K-T battles Estill today at 5:30 p.m. in the other semifinal matchup.