On what could have been a record-setting night, Coach Stephen Smith of Latta first feared the worst – that Felton had broken a bone during a game with very little significance to Felton or Latta besides Raymond breaking South Carolina's career points record. "That was the initial [feeling] because he was in obvious pain. He seemed to be in agony," commented Smith.
Of the injury, Coach Smith said, "I was very afraid because he was in pain. And he was upset and I was upset. His father was upset. That was more [because] of not knowing what it was. We've got the playoffs coming up next week and that's what I feared – playing him in a game that was meaningless and getting him hurt. I was kind of upset that I hadn't taken him out earlier. But when he got up I realized it was just a sprain."
The sprain forced Felton to leave the game in the last regular season contest of the year. During the huddle following the injury, Felton told Coach Smith that he'd be ready by the fourth quarter; however Raymond sat out the rest of the game.
Raymond's stats for the game would have been a productive evening for most other players -- but Felton is not "most other players." It's easy to be casual about his 29 points, nine rebounds and eight assists per game. Despite the ankle sprain, Felton still tied for game high-scoring honors with 16 points in 14 minutes and led Latta High School to its 23rd victory of the season.
A very disturbed Coach Smith had noted Lake View's rough play in their previous matchup and reiterated on Friday morning, "They tried to do it again last night… They knew they couldn't beat us and were trying to be as physical as possible, which in turn would keep them in the game. I don't buy that. They didn't come out there to play basketball… Both games we played against them were the ugliest games of the year. It wasn't basketball; I don't know what it was. They have a great football program -- I think that was what they were trying to play."
In an update on Felton this morning, Coach Smith reassured, "He's icing it [the ankle] down. He's sprained that ankle several times over the years and he always bounces back. He's going to be OK… He got up and put some weight on it and realized it was a sprain." Felton is not on crutches according to Smith.
Raymond Felton now has eight days of rest for his ankle to heal. Latta is not practicing as a team until Monday when they begin four solid days of preparation for their first round opponent. Coach Smith will evaluate Raymond at that point, after a weekend of rest.
Special Note: UNC fans should be on the lookout as Raymond Felton and the entire Latta HS (SC) basketball team will be in attendance on Sunday as UNC hosts Florida State. Coach Smith says that the team will arrive a little bit early to take in the sights of Chapel Hill as well.
The Felton Watch:
Felton's 16 points in last night's victory over Lake View brings his career total to 2,679 points. He is now within 17 points of breaking the all-time South Carolina career points record of 2,695, set by Hartsville's (SC) Roderick Blakeney from 1990 - 1994. It is almost certain that Felton will break the record in the first round playoff game on February 22nd at Latta High School against an opponent yet to be determined.
Latta's first two playoff games will be played with home court advantage, at Latta. Games three and four of the playoffs will then move to neutral courts, with the finals being played in Columbia, SC, beginning March 1st.
2/14/02 Lake View Score 80 – 39 Felton game stats Pts. 16 FG 6 - 14 3pt 2 - 6 FT 2 - 3 Reb 3 (1 off.) Ast 4 TO 2 Blocks 2 Steals 3 Felton Season-to-date, 25 games Latta Record: 23-3 Pts. 29.4 FG 261 - 504 (52%) 3pt. 99 - 233 (42%) FT 113 - 157 (72%) Reb 8.8 (2.7 off.) Assists 7.6 TO 3.0 Ast/TO 2.5 Blocks 1.8 Steals 3.8