Felton, Latta advance to SCHSL semifinals

Florence, SC - Scott's Branch tried to concentrate on stopping McDonald's All-American Raymond Felton last night but to no avail as Latta High School won, 86-70. Felton went to the line fifteen times and connected on 11 free throws for the game against another defense intent on harassing him. He was high scorer for the contest with 42 points on 13-24 (54%) shooting from the field and Raymond provided 49% of Latta's offense for the playoff game.

Scott's Branch has nothing to hang their heads about as they came about as close as anyone has in the state of South Carolina to giving Latta High School a competitive game. Scott's Branch trailed by only six points with a little over four minutes left in the game before succumbing to the final margin of 16 points. Free throws down the stretch led to the win. Scott's Branch had eliminated Latta High School from championship contention in both 1999 and 2000.

Felton was 5-9 from three-point range for the game. Of note, Felton now owns the South Carolina state record for number of three-pointers made during a season (111 total, or 4 three pointers made/game), according to WBTW's Morning News Online.

Here is a excellent first-hand report by one of Inside Carolina's message board posters, Percy Shaw, a.k.a. "75heel" which provides the following insights to the game:

    What a rugged, and intense game! Scott's Branch was going for their first win in three tries against the Latta Vikings, and Raymond was within three threes of breaking the single season record for 3's made in the state of SC.

    This was a game not only of intensity, but of physical roughness. Scott's Branch had one guy assigned to Raymond to be physical (push, shove, knock down, whatever). Add to that the Scott's Branch breaking of Latta's defensive pressure, and cold shooting by most of the Latta players, this was a tough game throughout.

    I gained an even greater respect for not only the basketball ability of Raymond Felton, but the character of this young man, in how he carried himself after being fouled hard, time after time.

    Latta never led by more than nine points until the fourth quarter. This was not a game of high flying dunks (only one by Raymond to my recollection) or fancy passes, though Raymond made some. This was a game of a hard working man going to work to feed his 12 children. Raymond was ALL BUSINESS. The constant banging against his body only made him mad.

Latta High School next faces perhaps the stiffest challenge in their quest to repeat as South Carolina 1A state champions as they meet Hemingway (SC) in a semifinals matchup. The game will be played Tuesday, March 5th at 7:00 p.m at Francis Marion University in Florence, S.C.

Concerning Hemingway, Coach Stephen Smith said today, "This is a rematch of last year except that they still have their core players and we have a relatively new crew except for Raymond and Murrell [Sutton]. Last year we jumped on them early [in the playoffs] and didn't let up. We got a big lead and maintained it. I hope we can do the same this year. They are tall for a 1A school [averaging 6-6 across the front line] and they can run. They are a strong team. We need to box out and crash the boards."

3/1/02 Lower State championship game
Latta 86, Scott's Branch 70

Felton game stats
Pts. 42
FG 13 - 24
3pt 5 - 9
FT 11 - 15
Reb 8 (3 off.)
Ast 6
TO 4
Blocks 1
Steals 3

Felton Season-to-date, 28 games
Latta Record: 26-3
Pts. 29.8
FG 295 - 562 (52%)
3pt. 111 - 255 (44%)
FT 134 - 184 (73%)
Reb 8.6 (2.6 off.)
Assists 7.6
TO 3.0
Ast/TO 2.5
Blocks 1.8
Steals 3.9

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