Originally created 07/13/01

Hoopsters end run of champions



The Augusta/Carolina Hoopsters upset the Wisconsin Playground Warriors on Friday in the sixth annual Nike Peach Jam.

The Playground Warriors went 9-0 last summer at the North Augusta tournament, capturing the championship over the Illinois Warriors in their first tournament appearance. They were off to a 2-0 start before they met a hungry Hoopsters team.

"I told the kids before the game that we had a good chance of beating them," said Hoopsters head coach Zach Norris, whose squad took a 66-61 victory at Riverview Activity Center. "We had to do a little soul searching after the loss (Thursday) night. We stayed around after the game and worked on some things and made some adjustments."

Norris' team heads into today's session with a 3-1 record after knocking off Emerald City 81-71 in Friday's nightcap. Silver Bluff sophomore Brandon Wallace (6-8, 180) had his breakout game of the tournament against Emerald City, pouring in a game-high 29 points and tallying eight rebounds.

The Playground Warriors rebounded Friday night, defeating the Illinois Warriors 65-61 in a rematch of last year's championship. Wisconsin, Illinois and Augusta/Carolina are tied for first place in Pool B with 3-1 records.

The top two teams from each pool will advance to the quarterfinals this evening. With a win over Boo Williams this morning, the Hoopsters assure themselves a quarterfinal spot for the first time ever.

"We still got a long ways to go," Norris said. "Boo Williams is a tough team. They beat us pretty bad last year. We just don't need to come out flat like we did against Emerald City. But I think we were a little flat from that emotional win over Wisconsin."

Against Wisconsin, the Hoopsters led from start to finish behind the solid, often dazzling performance of Richmond Academy point guard Darin Shine, who scored a game-high 14 points while dishing out seven assists.

"This was a big win," said Shine, who led the Musketeers to an undefeated Region 3-AAA championship last season. "We put ourselves in a really good position. I'm the quarterback of the team. I feel like I've done my job so far. We've got a lot of talented players."

The 6-foot, 165-pound Shine, who leads the tournament in averaging five assists per game, got some help from Richland Northeast senior Chad McKenzie and Marlboro County sophomore Resean Dickey.

McKenzie (6-6, 190), who is being recruited by Clemson, Georgia, Virginia and Georgetown, scored 13 points. Dickey (6-9, 230), who started in the South Carolina Class AAAA state championship game for Marlboro County as a freshman, scored eight points and grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds.

"I knew we had a lot of winners on this team," Norris said. "There's talent, then there's winners. We've got a lot of both. There are guys that I didn't play, who could just as well step on the floor and produce. We're just letting it flow right now."

Augusta/Carolina kept the lead in double figures for much of the second half, but Wisconsin guard Maurice Wade nailed back-to-back 3-pointers to cut the Hoopsters' lead to one with 6:40 to go in the game.

Laney's Corey Tyler (6-3,185) then rebounded a Wade miss and found McKenzie, who finished with a tomahawk dunk and got the foul. The Hoopsters pushed the lead back to seven when Shine drove base line for a score two trips later and was fouled on the shot.

Swainsboro guard Rocky Trice continued his consistent play for the Hoopsters, scoring six points while grabbing seven rebounds.

Reach Patrick Green at (803) 648-1395.