Wildcats Fall 92-75 to Lake Marion as Gators Advance to State Championship

By Lonnie Turner

Lake Marion had 16 players score against Dillon in their 92-75 win. (Photo by Larry Hardy/Times and Democrat.)

The red hot Gators of Lake Marion brought the Dillon Wildcats’ title hope to an abrupt stop Wednesday evening at the “Swamp” just off I-95 near Santee. Late three-point shooting by Breon Page made the score somewhat respectable with the Cats falling 92-75. Page hit three straight shots beyond the perimeter, added a two-shot bucket, and sank two free throws in the final eight minutes to finish the game with 25 points.

“We played a terrible game against Marion on Monday with our guys loafing up and down the floor,” remarked one of the assistant coaches. “Coach Brown (Head coach Roy Brown) was determined that his 24-1 Gators were going to be ready for Dillon,” he said.

And ready they were with steals and fast break points in the first four minutes to take a commanding 21-4 lead. The Wildcats would score only nine points in the first quarter with Jalik Bethea hitting on just one three-point attempt as they trailed the much quicker Gators. The Wildcats didn’t play well handling the ball in the first eight minutes, turning the ball over on nine occasions.

Dillon’s #33 Olajuwan Fenton tries to block a shot from Lake Marion. (Photo by Larry Hardy/Times and Democrat.)

Playing exceptionally well under the defensive backboard, Mike Williams swatted away shot after shot attempt inside and forced the Wildcats to go to the outside three-point shooting early.

“That wasn’t our strategy to take the threes,” Dillon head coach Harold Wilson explained. “But when you’ve had some success (in earlier games) then you feel like you’re going to knock some down. Young kids want to shoot the threes, but we told them that we had to get the ball inside. They had height, but it’s important to drive to the basket and draw some fouls.”

The Wildcats, behind Page’s first three 3-point shots of the game, stayed to within four points of the Gators in the second quarter as they were outscored, 23-19, before intermission.

At halftime, nine Gators had scored at least one basket with Mike Williams knocking down 14 points to lead the group. By the end of the game only two of Lake Marion’s 18-man team had failed to score.

Deriante Jenkins also contributed a few jams of his own as he totaled 14 points through three quarters. Coming off the bench to play most of the fourth quarter, Ryan Alston tallied eight of his 12 total points and Chris Turner got into the act with six of his 12 points in the third quarter.

Jalik Bethea contributed 17 points in a losing cause for the Cats, including three shots from behind the arc, and Shaqui Cabbagestalk joined Ja’Quan Knowlin with 8 points each.

Lake Marion’s #1 Khalil Halls goes for a shot past heavy guarding from the Wildcats. (Photo by Larry Hardy/Times and Democrat.)

The Wildcats outscored the Gators 29-19 in the final eight minutes behind Page’s 13 points, but the damage had been done.

With the win over the Wildcats, the Gators went on to defeat Silver Bluff 68-61 for the Lower State title at the Florence Civic Center and the next stop will be Columbia to take on Newberry for the Class 2A State Championship.

All in all, it has been a great run for the Wildcats, who are not extremely blessed with a lot of height, but the stamina has been great. All season, they have run a fast break offense that resulted in getting the three-point shooters open. They were fun and exciting to watch. Congratulations to Coach Wilson, Mike McRae and Stacy Smith for a very exciting season.

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