If anyone had handicapped the 2013 Modie Risher basketball tournament prior to the start of the event, they would have likely picked Fort Dorchester and Beaufort as the two favorites to reach the championship game on Saturday.
That handicapper would have been right.
The two teams thought to be the best in the tournament will meet on Saturday night at the Burke High gymnasium after each posted impressive semifinal victories.
Fort Dorchester improved to 8-0 on the season with a 57-46 win over Timberland. Senior guard Eric Heyward led a balanced scoring effort with 10 points. Will Munoz scored nine points and Khaliel Backman added eight.
"I thought we played pretty well on both ends of the floor in the first half, but we had a few letdowns mentally in the second half, which is something we cannot do," said Fort Dorchester coach Leon Wheaton. "I told the guys, good teams start quarters well and finish quarters well. We did not do that consistently tonight. It's something we can continue to work on and that's why these tournaments are good for us."
The Patriots trailed for the first three minutes before taking a lead they would never relinquish. Fort Dorchester led, 28-13, by halftime and led by as many as 16 points, 37-21, with 3:45 remaining in the third quarter.
Sparked by center DJ Johnson, Timberland finished the quarter on an 8-2 run with Johnson scoring 10 of his 14 points in the third period.
Timberland made a fourth-quarter run to cut the margin to eight with 3:35 remaining but the Patriots scored four quick points for a 51-39 lead with 2:44 to play.
Beaufort dispatched of host Burke, 68-46, in the other semifinal game. The Eagles were led by senior forward Kendrick Colvin's 26 points.
The Eagles broke open a close game with a 21-7 run over the last 10 minutes of the first half to lead, 34-19, at the break. The lead was 54-26 heading into the fourth quarter.
"Beaufort is long and quick and a very solid basketball team," said Wheaton. "They are in our region so we know a lot about them. They are in our region so we know a lot about each other. It should be a good game for the fans."
This marks the second consecutive finals appearance for Fort Dorchester, who lost to South Pointe in the finals last season.
Fort Dorchester (57) Heyward 10, Munoz 9, Backman 8, Snype 7, Carter 7, Hamilton 5, McFadden 4, Reese 4, Chisolm 3.
Timberland (46) Johnson 14, McKinney 9, Williams 6, King 4, Robinson 4, Pressley 3, Cox 2, Whaley 2, Harris 2.
Fort Dorchester 9 19 11 18-57
Timberland 4 11 14 17-46