GOOSE CREEK — He can sink the 3-pointer from long range or drive to the basket, hang in midair and score on a reverse layup. He makes deft passes from his point guard position and can steal the ball at the least expected moment. But the most important thing about this gifted player is that he is a leader.
Goose Creek’s Dantez Bennamon can do it all. Just ask the Ridge View Blazers. He hit a 3-pointer to begin the game and finished with a game-high 24 points Tuesday night as the Gators topped the Blazers, 70-44, in a third-round boys Class AAAA playoff basketball game.
The Gators (21-4) will play in Friday’s Lower State championship at the Florence Civic Center. The Gators will play Sumter, which advanced with a victory over North Augusta. Tipoff is scheduled for 8:30 p.m.
Bennamon is only a junior and his best days are still ahead. But the last three games haven’t been exactly shabby. He’s averaging 26.3 points in the playoffs.
“He’s fantastic,” Ridge View coach John Combs said of Bennamon. “There’s no doubt he’s one of the best guards in the state. He’s going to be a force the next game and next year.”
On Tuesday, Bennamon had many helping, talented hands. After he scored to open the game, teammate Chris Singleton added a pair of 3-pointers and the Gators led, 9-0. Singleton finished with 13 points, while Kameron Robinson had 14.
“The kids are ready to play,” said Gators coach Blake Hall. “There were no nerves tonight. The kids were anxious to get out on the court. We played a good game against a good Ridge View team.”
Combs said the 9-0 Gators lead put the Blazers in too deep of a hole.
“They got off to a great start,” Combs said. “They never gave us the opportunity to get back into the game. We played poorly. But you have to give Goose Creek credit.”
Goose Creek never trailed. The Gators led 18-10 at the end of the first quarter and 37-16 at halftime. The Blazers closed to 41-26 with 3:50 left in the third quarter, but Bennamon and Co. weren’t to be denied.
“He’s a kid who is humble,” Hall said of Bennamon. “No matter what’s going on, he doesn’t get too high or too low. He’s steady and plays steadily.”
Jordan Portee led the Blazers (15-10) with 14. Trevon Howell and Jarrell Brantley both had 10.
Ridge View (44): Isaac 1, Bradshaw 6, Traevon Howell 10, Jarrell Brantley 10, Kenny 1, Jordan Portee 14, Roman 2
Goose Creek (70): Patrick 5, Dantez Bennamon 24, Chris Singleton 13, Cameron Robinson 14, McElveen 6, Abdalluah 6, Evans 2
Ridge View 10 6 14 14—44
Goose Creek 18 19 11 22—70
Records: GC 21-4, Ridge Wiew 15-11. Next: Goose Creek plays Sumter on Friday.