Fort Dorchester boys basketball coach Leon Wheaton saw his team improve to 7-4 with a 65-34 win over Timberland in first-round action of the 35th annual Modie Risher Holiday Classic on Thursday night.
However, by Wheaton’s way of thinking, his team is only 1-0 this season.
“This was our 11th game this season, but it was our first game of the year with our entire team, the team that we thought we would have when we started,” says the fifth-year coach. “We have a long ways to go, but I saw a lot of really good things tonight. I thought we were very aggressive on both ends of the floor and we played great defense as a team. This was easily the best we have played this season.”
Fort Dorchester also did what few high school teams do — make free throws. The Patriots were 13-of-16 in a decisive first half and finished 19-of-27.
Sophomore forward Thaddeus Middleton led Fort Dorchester with 15 points, but he had plenty of help. Senior Damariez Moorer added 11 points and junior Eric Heyward scored 10 points. In all, 10 Patriots reached the scoring column.
“I think our depth can and should be our strength this season,” says Wheaton. “We were able to use a lot of guys, even in the first half when the game was close. I think with our full roster available we can wear people down with our pressure. We have a lot of interchangeable parts.”
Fort Dorchester dictated play throughout the first half, using pressure defense to score easy baskets on the other end. Leading 14-10 after one quarter, the Patriots out-scored the Wolves, 18-8, in the decisive second quarter.
The game was put on ice early in the third as Fort Dorchester scored the first seven points en route to 16-2 run over the first four minutes of the third period. The Patriots led 53-25 heading into the final period.
Timberland, which has already recorded early season victories over Stratford and Goose Creek, did not have a player reach double figures. Senior Austin McKinney and junior Joel Palmer led the Wolves with seven points each.
Fort Dorchester advances to the semifinals on Friday against host Burke. The other semi-final game matches a pair of undefeated teams – Beaufort and South Pointe, both off to 8-0 starts.