DARLINGTON, S.C. — These young Darlington Falcons are in the midst of an on-court trial by fire.
So far, they’ve barely been scathed.
Coach Anthony Heilbronn’s team won its latest close game. This time, it was a 52-49 home win against Lake City on Tuesday.
Darlington (6-1) has played four games decided by four points or fewer and won three of them.
Tre’Quan Scott was the difference Tuesday, airing a 3-pointer that rolled in with 1:25 left to give Darlington the lead for good at 49-47.
“I did think it was going to go in,” Heilbronn said. “He had missed early all night. He was due to hit one.”
But before that, the Panthers’ pressure defense created a 45-41 Lake City lead in the fourth quarter, and Darlington called time out
“We had to grow up some,” Heilbronn said. “We turned it over, turned it over, turned it over. And (Lake City) made a little run, and we didn’t quit. We didn’t put our head down. We responded. I’ve told you all year we’re young.
“For us, we’ve got to respond.”
After the Panthers’ Malik Hailey missed two inside attempts, Darlington’s Deuce Hudson missed the front end of a 1-and-1.
Then, after Lake City forced two timeouts while Darlington tried to get the ball in, the Falcons thought they had solved the problem. But the overhead pass downcourt to eighth-grader Keenan Dubose, and it went through his hands and out of bounds.
But an offensive foul was called on the Panthers’ Justin Johnson. A short time later, Hudson made two free throws, and another was added by none other than Dubose to account for the final score.
“(Dubose) thought he cost us the game. But I told him to keep his head up and never keep his head down,” Heilbronn said. “He’s on the court for a reason, and that’s because we believe in him.”
Hudson led the Falcons with 20 points, and Hailey led Lake City with 15.
LC 7 19 9 14 — 49
D 9 14 16 13 — 52
LAKE CITY (49)
McIntosh 5, Malik Hailey 15, E.J. McClam 9, Howard 4, Fryson 4, Bailey 6, Johnson 6.
Dubose 6, Deuce Hudson 20, Polk 7, Perkins 4, Bowens 6, Scott 7, Gary 2.