CLASS 4A, REGION 1 QUARTERFINAL

Williston clears 1st hurdle in playoffs, tops South Sumter


Williston Red Raiders forward Earl Brown takes a hook-shot over South Sumter Raiders defender Brandon Curtis during the Class 4A, Region 1 quarterfinal on Thursday.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Thursday, February 14, 2013 at 11:21 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, February 14, 2013 at 11:21 p.m.

WILLISTON — Although the score at the end was dominating enough, Williston coach Steve Faulkner waited a while before his Red Devils delivered that knockout punch Thursday night in the first round of the state playoffs.

Junior Alex Porter came off the bench and scored a team-high 20 points to lead four Williston players in double figures as the Red Devils beat South Sumter 71-54 in the Class 4A, Region 1 quarterfinals.

The visiting Raiders, who dominated the offensive glass and had a 26-point night from forward Brandon Curtis, stayed within striking distance until midway through the fourth when the Red Devils closed out on a 11-3 run to seal it and advance to their sixth straight regional semifinal.

“We spent all week rebounding because I knew how good of a rebounding team they were,” Faulkner said. “Tonight, for some reason, the kids didn't translate from practice to the game. In spite of all their offensive rebounds, they didn't really convert them in the second half like they did in the first half. We were able to get in the transition and avoid their zone, which helped stretch the lead a little bit.”

Porter, who along with Tre Wilson each had 10 rebounds, scored 14 of his points in the first half as the Red Devils (22-7) built a 38-25 lead.

A 3-pointer by Damien Strange, who had three on the night en route to 13 points, gave Williston its biggest lead at 48-31 in the third. But Curtis scored five straight points and Reace Kinley hit a 3-pointer as South Sumter (13-13) ended the period on a 10-4 run and trailed 54-43 heading into the fourth.

“We stretched it to like 17 and the next thing I know they got it down to nine,” Faulkner said. “It was like we couldn't get that knockout blow. It was one of those games you try to gut through.”

Curtis scored 10 of the Raiders' 11 points in the fourth, and his fourth basket of the period trimmed the Red Devils' lead to nine (60-51) with five minutes to play. But that would be as close as South Sumter would get down the stretch.

Wilson, the Devils' top scorer, got in foul trouble early and was benched with three minutes left in the first. He finished with 15 points, getting 12 in the second half, and also dished out nine assists. Earl Brown had 12 points for Williston.

“(Wilson) got in foul trouble early in the first half, and I had to sit him and hope we could get through the first half OK,” said Faulkner, whose team has played in four straight regional finals. “In the second half, I thought he was able to get in the flow and played pretty well.”

Williston will play host to district rival Fort White (14-5) in Tuesday's regional semifinals.

Faulkner has been impressed with Porter, a 6-foot-5 forward/center who scored half of the team's 20 points in the second.

“He is kind of our super sub,” he said. “He can play both post spots. I bring him off the bench, whichever I think he can help us out. That's three games in a row he has played really well for us.”

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