Latta repeats as champ, Felton sets scoring mark

(Updated) Felton scores 45 as Latta repeats as 1-A champ.

"Which one of y'all is holding Ray?" one of the record 10,574 fans at the Carolina Coliseum yelled at the H.K. Tyler players. The players looked back and at each other in a stunned silence.

Everyone in the Coliseum could have simultaneously answered the question.

No one.

Raymond Felton and the Latta Vikings defeated the H.K. Tyler Trojans to win their second straight SC Class 1-A State title. However, in the first half it did not appear that the victory would be as impending as most fans believed.

H.K, obviously emotionally ready for the "Raymond Show," came out and set a blazing pace. Led by U-Savior Lynch the Trojans jumped out to an early 16-10 lead. Lynch connected on six straight free throws to push Tyler's lead to 22-10.

H.K. shot a remarkable 16-26 FG (61 percent), and 6-8 (75 percent) from beyond the arc. During this stretch Felton struggled, committing three turnovers and missing four of his first six shots.

The two teams battled the rest of the half and the Trojans went into the locker room with a 49-43 lead. Despite his sub par beginning, Felton led all scorers at the half with 18 points.

"We didn't play our best basketball, and were only down six at the half," said Latta head coach Steve Smith. "They were getting really good looks and knocking them down, it was obvious that we needed to hit some three's, we set a record for three's," Smith added.

Felton's Day
45 points
12-24 field goals
6-16 three-pointers
15-19 free throws
10 assists
six rebounds
six steals
one block
For a grand total of 45 points, a SC championship record and an career total of 2,922 points, a SC state record
Latta shot just 1-8 (12.5 percent) from long distance in the first half.

It didn't take long for Smith's team to do precisely what he thought they needed. On the first play of the second half Latta guard Marrell Sutton connected on his second three pointer of the game to pull his team within three points.

That's when the "Raymond Show" began.

On Latta's next possession Felton drained a three from the corner, tying the game at 49-49. In fact, Felton proceeded to go on a personal 8-0 run to give Latta a 51-52 lead, which they would never surrender.

The third quarter belonged to Raymond Felton. The UNC signee outscored H.K. Tyler 19-10 in the third, connecting on three of his five 3pt attempts. He even found time to do the "antler symbol" popularized (among others) by current Tar Heel Jason Capel.

Felton soars for the tipoff
Prompting this explosion was a personal challenge from H.K. Tyler guard Brien Card . With Felton bringing the ball up, Card proceeded to slap the floor, almost pleading and urging Raymond to drive to the basket on him.

"He made me want to go at him harder. He made me want to show him. I didn't want to make him look bad, but if you try to make me look bad, I'm going to come at you," said Felton.

And come at Card he did. Though not in the ways you would expect. Raymond began to get his teammates involved. He recorded seven assists, four of which came in the fourth quarter.

Latta coasted from there to capture their second straight Class-A championship 93-78. After the game, Coach Smith discussed Raymond and his career at Latta:

"Raymond will go down as the greatest player in South Carolina High School history," Smith said. But Felton didn't do it all by himself. Latta had two other players in double figures: Sutton and reserve Derrick Wilson.

"These guys are like brothers to me, I wish I could take them with me to college next year. We've been playing together since we were 8 or 9 years old," Felton said.

Coach Smith reinforced Raymond's unselfishness on the court and the play of Raymond's teammates. "Raymond is a really special player. He's an unselfish player. To have 10 assists like Raymond did, you have to have good players around you."

For Felton this marks the end of a remarkable high school career. Felton finished with a South Carolina record 2922 career points. Next stop, Chapel Hill.

"For now I just want to take about a week off, then get into my condition again because I have the McDonald's game coming up," Felton said.

"I just want to get better at everything, I need to become a better overall player. [When I get to Chapel Hill] I just want to be a team player. I just wanna do whatever I can to help my team win games."

BOXSCORE
Latta: Short 8, Townsend 0, Sutton 18, Grissett 4, Felton 45, Richardson 0, An. Harrison 0, Wright 2, Ad. Harrison 0, Wilson 16, R.Bethea 0, J.Bethea 0, Brigman 0.

Hunter-Kinard-Tyler: Lynch 8, Milhouse 17, Anderson 0, Card 11, Robinson 13, D.James 0, Tyler 1, Legree 2, Smith 2, W.James 10, Draton 14, Parker 0, Brimfield 0, Burkett 0, Pough 0.


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