The 'Big Three' isn't always enough
Saturday, March 08, 2014 12:05 AM
COLUMBIA - Throughout this season, the driving force behind Greenwood High School’s girls basketball team was the dominance of three players: Yanna Jones, Tianna Swearinger and Tembre Moates.
Yes, the occasional fourth player would step up and deliver the knockout punch, like the way Greenwood’s Christina Westervelt did last week with 16 points in the Eagles’ Class AAAA, Upper State championship win against Dorman.
For all of the Eagles’ 23 victories, it was either Greenwood’s version of the “Big Three,” or that occasional someone else who was the difference.
And when the “Big Three” — as a whole — is unable to lead the way, the uncertainty presents itself.
Sometimes, the additional help is there. Sometimes, it isn’t.
During Friday’s Class AAAA state championship game against Dorman, the additional help was not as Dutch Fork won 62-55 for its third consecutive state championship.
Swearinger finished with 30 points, followed by Jones with 13. But with Moates scoring nine, Greenwood needed those one or two extra players to deliver.
Players are human. And, everyone — no matter how good that person is — can have an off night. But the pain Greenwood’s players endured after Friday’s loss was excruciating.
“You know, when we played last week, Christina got a bunch of 3’s for us,” Thompson said. “We just didn’t get a bunch of 3s (Friday) from anyone.”
In all, only four players accounted for points in Greenwood’s scorebook Friday. The Eagles’ Ashtin Davis rounded out the scoring with a 3-pointer. And, two 3-pointers were made by Jones and another by Swearinger.
When a team falls behind by 20, like the Eagles did at halftime Friday, just one or two players can only do so much.
But give Swearinger credit. She sure darn tried to put it all on her back. And, Jones also tried to produce a spark in what was her final high school game.
“Somebody had to take control,” said Swearinger, whose older brother, D.J., made a name for himself just down the road from Colonial Life Arena at Williams-Brice Stadium as a Gamecocks football star. “Me and (Jones) were talking to the team at halftime, ‘Yeah, we were down. But, we were down at Dorman. But, we just couldn’t get over it.”
Although Dutch Fork lost a lot of its key players from last season’s state title, four Silver Foxes still scored in double figures Friday.
Moates and Swearinger are back next season. And, after Thompson was asked what positives her team could take from Friday, she was quick with an answer.
“Tembre has played so much better from last year to this year,” Thompson said of Moates, who is a sophomore. “She and Tianna play a bunch of summer ball.”
Obviously, with Swearinger and Moates at the core of next year’s team, another strong season is possible.
“Just the experience of them being here is valuable,” Thompson said. “This won’t be new to them if they make it back.”
Some coaches want that hurt from losing a title game to carry over to the next as motivation. Others don’t.
Count Thompson among the latter.
“You know, I hate to say this after (Friday’s loss), but it’s just a ballgame,” Thompson said. “We try to look at it that way. You play the right way and do things the right way. And, that’s all you can do.”
Swearinger also refuses to think of Friday as the end of the world. She spoke after the game with the conviction her team is destined for something great again.
“You know, it’s another dagger in the back; it really makes you think,” Swearinger said. “Next season will be my senior year. This is a minor setback for a major comeback. Tembre has two more years, and I have one more year.
“And, I want to go out with a bang.”
Chancey is sports editor at the Index-Journal. Contact him at 223-1813; e-mail email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @IJSCOTTCHANCEY. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper's opinion.