Photo by Heather Middleton
By Doug Gorman
They're inexperienced, and they just keep finding a way to win.
So goes the latest chapter in the Cinderella story of the Drew High
School basketball team.
The two-year old Clayton County high school doesn't have a senior on the team, but Saturday night the Titans will step onto the floor at Columbus State University for a basketball game in the Class AAA Elite 8.
Drew made its reservations to the quarterfinals of the state tournament with a 68-63 victory over visiting Westside-Augusta Wednesday night.
The contest featured 13 lead changes, including four in the final eight minutes, but the Titans simply wore their guest down with solid defense.
Drew was led by Berry Mayes' 19 points. Teammates Cory Gaves added 11 and David White chipped in 10 en route to the victory.
Allen Elmore finished with 15 for the Patriots, hitting five 3-point shots.
"It just goes to show that hard work pays off," Graves said. "If we stay together, we know good things are going to happen. Our motto is, one team, one family."
Graves teammate Eloka Olisa echoed those sentiments.
"We just thank God we have been able to get this far," he said. "We just hope we can keep up it up."
The Titans' victory left head coach Jarrod Davis nearly speechless as he watched his team hold off the Patriots in a game full of drama.
"I really don't know what to say," said Davis. "Right now we are just playing good basketball. It's hard to put this all into words, but this is pretty special."
Drew trailed 51-50 at the end of the third quarter, but took control of the game in the final period thanks to some stellar defense and clutch free throw shooting.
The Patriots stayed in the game with 11 3-point shots, nine coming in the second and third quarters, but Drew never seemed rattled by Westside's ability to knockdown the 3-point shot.
"We just tried to stay confident," Graves said. "We knew if we turned it up on defense we would be able to pull it out in the end."
But the game might have been won on the free throw line in the fourth period. Drew connected on its chances, Westside didn't.
The Titans connected on 15 of 19 free throws in the final period.
Westside had trouble scoring in the last eight minutes, onlying hitting two shots from the floor. They also hit just six of 16 free thows.
After the Patriots took their last lead of the game at 54-52, the Titans came back to tie the game on two free throws by Sidney Scurbuck. Drew took the lead for good when Olisa hit one of two free throws to put the Titans up 55-54.
Late in the game Westside cut the lead back to 64-62, but that's as close as it could get.
After trailing 13-10 at the end of the first quarter, Westover tied the game at 30-all at the end of the second quarter thanks to four treys.
But it was a first-half of spurts for both teams.
Drew looked ready to throw the knockout punch in the first half, putting together a 15-2 run between the end of the first quarter and the start of the second when Mayes hit a basket to give the Titans a 23-12 lead.
Then it was Westside's time to rally. The Patriots started hitting 3-pointers late in the period and outscored the Titans 18-9 down at the end of the period to force the 30-all tie at the break.
The Titans play Butler at 8:30 p.m Saturday. Butler advanced with a 77-43 victory against Peach County.