Devildogs Escape Greer's Upset Attempt
The Greer High School Yellow Jackets entered Joe Small Gymnasium with the worst record of any Region 2 AAAA member last Friday night. The Jackets had been pushed around all season with huge losses to Mauldin (73-40 and 73-54), Byrnes (52-38 and 88-42), East Rutherford (60-47 and 73-29), Union County (77-60), Chesnee (52-42), Erwin (65-45), Mountain Heritage (73-32), and Greenville (53-39). Travelers Rest, on the other hand, entered with an 11-3 overall record, and ranked 7th in the state's AAAA poll. You would think this would be a ho-hum game for the TR Devildogs - but it didn't turn out that way. Greer used a rigid zone defense to keep TR's offense at bay and the Devildogs had to rely on some keen outside shots and slow paced play to escape with a 59-52 overtime victory.
The Devildogs received six 3 point goals from Sam Brown (3), Malik Ware (2) and Derrick Fields (1) to stay ahead of Greer's zone.
TR opened the game looking nothing like a state ranked team. Greer didn't look so hot either. After five and a half minutes of play the two teams had a combined total of only 8 points on the scoreboard with Greer holding a shaky 6-2 lead. TR finally took its first lead (8-6) with back to back three pointers by Fields and Sam Brown. Two 3 pointers by Ware combined with free throws by Jacob Brown and Fields pushed the Devildogs out to a 20-10 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter was cold, not just outdoors but alson on the basketball court. By the time there was only two minutes left in the half, TR had managed to score only 4 points but held on to a slim 24-23 lead. Greer had closed the gap to 24-23 off of a three pointer with 2:40 left on the clock. That prompted the Devildogs to sink into a signature trademark Josh Mills freeze as TR killed over two minutes. With only five seconds left in the half, Jonquez Webb scored to give TR a 26-23 lead which stood as the halftime score.
The third quarter started with Derrick Fields on the bench. He would not return to the court until the final 47 seconds of the fourth.
Sam Brown opened TR scoring in the third with a 3 pointer while brother Jacob added a free throw for a 31-25 TR lead. Sam Brown opened the gap with two technical foul shots for a 33-25 Devildog lead. The final four minutes saw Sam Brown hit another 3 pointer, and a two point bucket for a 38-28 lead. Quan O'Neal completed TR scoring with a free throw and TR held a 39-30 lead heading in to the fourth quarter.
TR continued to only leads of seven and nine points in the fourth until three minutes were left in the game. Greer closed the gap off of free throws to make it a 48-43 game. Sam Brown pushed TR's lead back to 49-43 at the 2:52 mark but those points would complete the Devildogs' scoring through the remainder of regulation play. Greer answered with a 6-0 run to tie the game at 49-49 with only 47 seconds left to play.
TR answered by freezing the ball down to 18 seconds and promptly turned the ball over on an out of bounds pass. Greer took the turnover and ran the clock down to 5.3 seconds. A steal by TR gave the Devildogs possession with seven tenths of a second left in regulation. It wasn't enough time to get off a shot and the game went into overtime.
In overtime the two teams appeared content to deciding the game at the free throw line. TR managed to escape the Greer threat for the 59-52 victory.
Note: TR's top scorer Case Roach did not participate in the game.
Historical Note: The Travelers Rest - Greer rivalry started way back on February 19, 1929 when the two teams battled it out in the semi-final championship of District Three in Greer. At the end of that game both teams claimed victory. The Travelers Rest scorekeepers had TR winning by one point. The Greer scorekeepers had Greer winning by one point. While game officials went to a room in the school building to recount the scoring totals, fans of TR and Greer slugged it out in the gymnasium. Greer cops restored order quickly and nobody was injured. But, officials could not figure out who won as the midnight hour approached. Officials agreed to meet again on February 20th to determine the winner and if a winner could not be determined they would replay the game all over again. Fortunately for TR, the recount on February 20th revealed TR had actually won 29-28 and advanced to play Parker for the District 3 championship. TR was coached by Otis "Blackie" Carter, one of the most colorful characters to ever coach athletics at TRHS from 1925 to 1930.
TUESDAY - On Tuesday night Travelers Rest and Greenville will square off for a Region 2 AAAA first place battle at Greenville. Game time is 7:30 pm.