Playing their first game of the year Wednesday night against Ninety Six, Emerald High School boys basketball coach Mark Sorrow admitted he and his team had some first-game jitters. Despite practicing for months and playing in several scrimmages, Sorrow knew that nothing could fully prepare his team for that first game.
Those nerves showed in the first quarter, but once the Vikings got rolling in the second quarter, they ran the Wildcats off the floor. Emerald used two big runs in the second and third quarters to cruise to a 75-45 win on its home floor.
"This feels great," Sorrow said. "I told them coming out, we've had several scrimmages and many, many practices, but the first time those lights come on, everybody in there had jitters. It showed early and we were a little bit tight, but the biggest thing for us (Wednesday) was how hard we would play.
"We played hard and let our defense carry us. That showed results as the game went on."
The two teams played to a tie at 14 in the first quarter. Coming out for the second quarter, Sorrow put his team in a 1-3-1 trapping defense. Whether the Vikings used a half-court trap or stretched it out to a full-court press, the Wildcats struggled to handle it. Emerald forced seven early turnovers and sprinted out to a 9-0 run and never looked back. Led by Mil Hackett's 9 points, Emerald outscored Ninety Six in the second 23-11 to seize a 39-25 halftime lead.
"That's what we've got to do this year, our defense has got to fuel our offense," Sorrow said. "We went into that 1-3-1 halftime court, I thought Kelvis (Louden) did a good job getting into passing lanes, and when we
extended it to full court, Bruce Johnson did a great job playing on the ball and forcing the trap."
Both teams opened the third quarter flat, and late in the quarter, the teams had scored just 7 points combined, and Ninety Six had whittled Emerald's lead to 41-30.
But in the final two minutes, Hackett sparked a 10-0 run, scoring six points, as the quarter ended to give the Vikings a 51-30 lead.
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