The Saints of Christian Academy of Myrtle Beach have a chance to play in their second consecutive state championship game on Saturday.
All they have to do is beat perhaps the best high school player in the nation, Zion Williamson, and Spartanburg Day School, on Thursday night.
The Saints are getting another shot at Williamson and the Griffins after falling in the South Carolina Independent Schools Association (SCISA) Class 2A championship game last year, when Williamson put together a highlight reel with 51 points in a 76-51 win.
This year the teams are meeting in the semifinals.
“He had a phenomenal game. He shot it very well and did things he normally does in transition,” Saints coach Colin Stevens said. “We’re excited to be back in the position to being playing in a big game in the playoffs. Zion gets a ton of attention but they’re a good team. They have a lot of pieces.”
Williamson, an athletic 6-7 brute who has committed to play at Duke in the fall, scored 38 points in a 91-54 quarterfinal win Tuesday over The King’s Academy and is averaging 37 points and 11.3 rebounds per game this season.
Spartanburg Day, which participated in the Beach Ball Classic without Williamson when he was nursing a foot injury, is 18-8. Myrtle Beach Christian is 18-9 and has won seven straight games, including a victory Tuesday over Hilton Head Prep in the quarterfinals.
“We feel good. We’ve been playing better basketball, more team-oriented basketball in the past three weeks or so,” Stevens said. “We know we’re going against a good team and a great player and have the mindset we have to bring our best.”
The Saints have played a formidable schedule. They have lost twice to Oak Hill Academy (Va.)’s varsity red team, which is second to their national touring team; and once each to York Prep, which regularly produces Division I players, and United Faith Christian of Charlotte.
Junior Michael Green leads the Saints with 21 points and 5.6 assists per game and also averages 5.0 rebounds per game and is shooting 50 percent from three-point range with 87 made 3-pointers.
Davis Guyton, who is 6-foot-6, averages 12 points and 4.4 rebounds, 6-7 Sam Woods averages 9.2 points and seven rebounds per game and can both shoot and facilitates the offense, and 6-4 Jalen Matthews will also be counted upon.
“It’s going to take a total team effort for us to come out with a victory tomorrow,” said Stevens, who has been studying tape of his team’s state championship loss as well as other Spartanburg Day games.
“We’re seeing what we did last year and what we can do differently,” Stevens said. “We’re looking to see what might work against them offensively and defensively.
We also don’t want to over-compensate, they have a great player but we want to do the things we do well.”
The championship game is 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Sumter Civic Center. Palmetto Christian of Mount Pleasant and Trinity-Byrnes are meeting in Thursday’s second semifinal game.