Stall seniors who suffered through a one-win season two years ago claimed 13 victories this season, and advanced to the second round of the high school basketball playoffs.
But that’s where the Warriors’ bounce-back season ended Friday night, with a 72-63 loss to visiting Crestwood in the Class AAA boys playoffs.
“It’s bittersweet,” said second-year coach Steve Guerry, who took over a program that had gone 2-36 the previous two years. “We came in here not trying to be happy because we haven’t done this before. We expected to win this game and it hurts that we can’t move on.”
Junior Jordan Carswell scored 24 points for the Warriors, who ended their season with a 13-11 mark. Senior Seth McKelvey added 15 points.
“These guys have grown by leaps and bounds, even over the past two weeks,” said Guerry, a former assistant at Berkeley and Kingstree. “We went from being at the bottom of our conference to challenging for the top.
“I told our guys, now that we’ve had a taste of what it’s like at the top, we want to keep Stall there for years to come.”
Crestwood’s pair of quick senior guards, Seth Fitzgerald and Garian Williams, scored 17 points each as the Sumter school improved to 15-9.
“They were a tough matchup,” Guerry said. “Fitzgerald could pull up from outside, so you have to play him out there. And when you do, he’s quick off the dribble.”
Carlton Washington, a 6-5 junior, added 16 points for Crestwood, and senior Paris Tindal had 15.
Stall cut a 12-point deficit to seven at 59-52 in the fourth quarter. But Williams responded with two drives for buckets, and Fitzgerald dished to Washington for a third straight basket and a 65-52 lead.
The Warriors got it back down to 66-60 with 58 seconds left on a fastbreak basket and a free throw by Carswell. But Crestwood’s Williams made six of eight free throws to lock up the win.
Senior Shaquille Moultrie added nine points and senior Kaylon Washington had six for Stall.
Crestwood (72): Seth Fitzgerald 17, Garian Williams 17, Travis Blakely 2, Exavia Bradshaw 3, Paris Tindal 15, Rakeem Benjamin 2, Carlton Washington 6.
Stall (63): Jordan Carswell 24, Shaquille Moultrie 9, Kaylon Washington 6, Antwone Washington 4, Seth McKelvey 15, Wayne Smith 2, Oscar Sierra 1, Nelson Cedeno 2.
Halftime: Stall, 32-31.