Wando basketball coach David Eaton's squad picked up a monumental and memorable victory recently when the Warriors knocked off No. 1 Goose Creek by a 74-40 score.
It was monumental because the Warriors showed they can dominate any team on a given night despite not having an overly experienced team. The Warriors' top scorer, Jamez Rogers, is only a sophomore and the top rebounder, 6-9 Matthew Pegram, is a junior.
It was memorable because the victory over the Gators was Eaton's 100th career victory in six years at the helm of the Mount Pleasant high school program.
Now, the key is to keep the momentum going as the Warriors close in on 20 victories and a possible Region 7-AAAA crown. They have outscored region foes by more than 20 points a game and are 3-0 in league play, 18-3 overall.
But the bad weather snuffed out some games this week, and the Warriors have a full agenda next week as they bid to keep up in the upper echelons of the state basketball poll. The Warriors are No. 2 in the state, but that could mean nothing if the Warriors aren't ready for an intense week. They play West Ashley on Monday, host Cane Bay on Tuesday and then travel to Goose Creek on Friday in a game that should settle the region race.
Eaton knows the task won't be easy.
"We knew we could beat Goose Creek, but we didn't think it would be by 34 points," he said. "But a victory like that doesn't matter when you have to play them a second time. We have to be ready. Goose Creek has talent, excellent coaching and a tradition of being one of the best programs in the state. We have to be ready."
The Wando roster includes 17 players, and only five are seniors. The only senior starter, Andrew Glover, a 6-3 guard, has fared well on the hardcourt and football field.
Rogers, who has grown an inch to 6-5 this winter, is averaging 16 points a game, and can score from anywhere on the court. He's lean and talented with a deft touch from behind the 3-point line. But what separates him from most underclassmen is that he's not afraid to go inside. He's a relentless rebounder and has a knack for getting the ball under the basket for an easy follow-up shot.
Pegram offers major matchup problems. He's 6-9 and is averaging a double-double in region play. His talent helps the Warriors practice what Eaton preaches.
"You have to have consistency," Eaton said. "And we preach you do that by playing great defense, winning the rebounding battles and outworking your opponent."
Rogers is the leading scorer, but the team has depth. The other starters are all averaging just under 10 points per game.
"We knew going into the season that we had loads of talent," Eaton said. "We have two sophomores who play a lot, and the juniors get the bulk of playing time. We have some young guys but they have experience. We saw that we had talent coming up. We have some great community coaches who taught these guys the game of basketball."
But the Warriors know how quickly the season can end. Two years ago, Wando breezed through the regular season before getting bounced from the playoffs early and finishing with a 24-3 record. The team hopes to make a much deeper run in the postseason this year.
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