CAROLINA FOREST — The Carolina Forest basketball team is finding a way to get it done.
Four starters finished in double figures Friday night, and Panthers never surrendered their lead as Carolina Forest defeated South Florence 73-66 in a Region VII-AAAA meeting and the Panthers are now on a six-game winning streak.
“Very pleased after the break how we’re starting to trust each other and play unselfish,” Panthers coach Brian Brunson said. “I think that’s a big indicator to why we’ve won six in a row now. You look at our box scores, it’s been pretty spread out. Anybody can score at any given time in the way that they’re capable of scoring. We’re trusting the system a little more and we’re not doing anything great, but collectively we’re doing stuff better so the result is better.”
Jawan Butler-Stevens had a game-high 18 points, Ryan Yurachek and Zavier Jones had 17 points each, and Parker Helgerson contributed 10 points.
“I was just getting to the open side and my team was just looking out for me,” Jones said.
Carolina Forest was strong out of the gate, going on a quick 9-2 run, which set the pace for the game.
“You always want to come out blazing in the first half and the second half,” Brunson said. “I wish we would’ve finished a little better in the last two and a half minutes. Up that much with that much time left, the other team is no longer your opponent, it’s the clock. We didn’t manage the clock very well and got a little sloppy. But hats off to [South Florence], they didn’t quit but our guys found a way to win.”
The Panthers started the second quarter on a 10-0 run and Jones hit two 3-pointers during that span to give Carolina Forest a 27-17 lead.
“Coach Brunson told us we had to come out strong and that’s what we did,” Jones said. “We gave it all we had and came out and executed. That’s how we got that lead.”
South Florence cut into the Panthers’ lead in the fourth quarter as it went on a 7-2 run to cut its deficit to five points, but that was as close as the Bruins would get.
“This is a huge win for our confidence and our region,” Brunson said. “It puts us in the driver’s seat. You like to control your own destiny, but there’s a lot of basketball left to play.”
Justin Ford had 17 points, and Daviyd Floyd and Josh Johnson had 11 points apiece for South Florence (8-5), which had its six-game winning streak snapped.
Meanwhile, the Panthers look to continue their winning streak when they host Sumter on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.
“We got the run now but we’re not going to let it get to us,” Jones said. “We’re going to keep working hard in practice and take it game-by-game.”
• SOUTH FLORENCE (66) – Dominique Small 1, Justin Ford 17, Damarius Robinson 8, Bobby Rivers 2, Deadrick Williams 5, Giovanni Rivers 2, Daviyd Floyd 11, Josh Johnson 11, Karon Evans 5, Nick Nerquism 4.
• CAROLINA FOREST (73) – Zavier Jones 17, Chris Johnson 3, Parker Helgerson 10, T.J. Simmons 5, Ryan Yurachek 17, Will Brunson 3, Jawan Butler-Stevens 18.
• 3-point goals: South Florence 4 (Ford, Floyd, Johnson, Evans); Carolina Forest 6 (Jones 2, Helgerson 2, Simmons, Brunson). Team fouls: South Florence 20, Carolina Forest 17. Fouled out: None. Technical fouls: None.
• Records: South Florence (8-5, 1-1); Carolina Forest (8-7, 2-0)
Contact MAX MCKINNON at 626-0302.