It was quite the way to open the region basketball slate.
Crosstown rivals Goose Creek and Stratford hooked up at GCHS on Jan. 14, with the Lady Gators and Gators recording the sweep, 72-30 and 54-47, in front of a frenzied crowd.
The top-ranked Gators (16-1) held off the Knights in the fourth quarter for their 16th win in 17 games. Gators coach Blake Hall said his squad was galvanized by the large turnout.
“I was very proud of our student body, faculty and everybody else that showed up tonight,” Hall said. “It’s one of the best atmospheres we’ve had since I’ve been here at Goose Creek. I would love for that to continue. The guys really deserve it. They work hard.
“They really get ready to go when they see the student body up there cheering them on. That was spectacular.”
The Goose Creek boys trailed 9-7 after one period but used a 13-2 run in the second quarter to gain some control and eventually led 27-16 at half and 40-29 after three quarters.
The Knights pulled as close as four points with 14.6 seconds left.
Senior guard Dantez Bennamon led the Gators with 19 points, while senior Jordan McElveen added nine points. Junior Kameron Robinson and senior Chris Singleton chipped in eight points apiece.
Stratford (13-4) was led by senior Demetre Rivers, who scored a game-high 25 points and pulled down eight rebounds.
Senior Marquise Calvary added 12 points and senior Thad Thompson chipped in five points and five rebounds.
“When you lose I don’t know how you take a positive out of it,” Stratford coach Troy Johnson said. “I think the score indicated that we’re at the level Goose Creek is.”
And that seems to be on the top shelf. The Gators were recently voted as the No. 1 team in Class AAAA. Hall downplayed the significance of the poll, though.
“I don’t know who’s voting,” he said. “I don’t know if they’re at our practices and our games. (The No. 1 ranking) is more for the community and school. That’s something for them to be proud of. It doesn’t mean anything to us. There’s only one No. 1 and that’s the one in early March.”
The Gators traveled to West Ashley on Friday to continue region play and were set to travel to Wando on Jan. 21. They host Cane Bay on Jan. 24.
“This is one of the better regions in the Lowcountry, regardless of classification,” Hall said. “It’s a smaller region but it’s got some great coaches and great players.”
Stratford was off Friday but was slated to host West Ashley on Tuesday, Jan. 21 then travel to Wando on Jan. 24. They conclude the first trip through region play at Cane Bay on Jan. 28.
“Every night in this region is huge for us,” Johnson said. “We’re in a tough region. We’ve got to bring it every night. We’ve got to get to another level to win some ball games.”
Stratford and Goose Creek meet again at SHS on Friday, Jan. 31.
In the girls game, the No. 4 Lady Gators coasted to the 42-point victory. They led 18-7 after a period and 37-17 at halftime.
A 29-2 run in the third quarter sealed Goose Creek’s 15th win in 17 games.
Senior Alex Ludwig led four Lady Gators in double figures with 15 points, while freshman Mariah Linney (14 pts), senior Semoine Frasier (12 pts) and freshman Ericka Broughton (10 pts) also reached double figures. Senior Shakeia Joy chipped in nine points.
Broughton and sophomore Shakayia Wilson had eight and seven rebounds respectively.
Cali White led Stratford with 14 points, while Madison Ackerman added six points. Spencer Baldwin added four points.