Wando head coach David Eaton’s message to his team before it entered the postseason was simply to go have fun.
It was all smiles in the Chop House on Wednesday as defending state champion Wando ran away with a 69-45 win over Summerville in the opening round of the Class AAAA playoffs.
Wando (20-5) finished the game on a 15-2 run highlighted with dunks on four of its final seven baskets.
“We really wanted to win this game, but these teenagers don’t need to be too serious out there,” Eaton said. “We told them to go have fun, love each other and be positive. This was a great start for us.”
Summerville (14-10) closed the first quarter on a 5-0 run to take a 15-12 lead. The Green Wave scrapped their zone defense four minutes in and squared up man-to-man against the oversized Warriors.
Junior forward Terrelle Bowens fueled the Summerville offense with 10 of his game-high 26 points in the first quarter. Bowens scored 16 points in the first half, battling in the post and knocking down all six of his free-throw attempts.
Wando center Matt Pegram reclaimed the lead for Warriors on a layup with 4:21 to play in the first half. Wando would never trail again.
Leading 28-24 entering the second half, Wando poured in 20 points in the third quarter, nine from junior forward Jamez Rogers.
Summerville hung within five points with just under four minutes to play in the third, but a 3-pointer and two free throws from Rogers in the final 1:45 opened a 48-39 lead.
“We played as spirited as we could, but it was just a matter of time,” Summerville head coach Greg Elliott said. “They’re bigger, stronger, faster, more physical and I think as the game went on they just kind of beat us down a little bit.”
Wando allowed Summerville just two field goals in the fourth quarter and took firm control with a four-minute, 13-0 run. By the time Wando senior point guard Amp Moore took off from outside the paint and dunked on half the Green Wave team, the game was already in the books.
The Warriors now take their show on the road to face Region 5 No. 1 seed Irmo on Saturday in the second round. Irmo defeated Conway, 80-66, Wednesday.
Wando lost just once on the road this season, while Irmo (22-3) has yet to lose a game at home.
“I don’t think they care about going to someone else place. It’s kind of fun for us,” Eaton said. “When you beat someone in their place, there are no excuses. We’ve played in tough environments. You have to win away from home in some way to win it all, so might as well do it in the second round.”