High School Sports

How the Carvers Bay boys basketball team just made school history

The Carvers Bay boys basketball team celebrates a 69-51 win over Marion in the Class 2A Lower State final on Saturday at the Florence Civic Center.
The Carvers Bay boys basketball team celebrates a 69-51 win over Marion in the Class 2A Lower State final on Saturday at the Florence Civic Center. Submitted photo

Talk about a celebratory meal.

After making history by beating Marion 69-51 in the Class 2A Lower State final on Saturday at the Florence Civic Center, all the Carvers Bay boys basketball players wanted to do was go to Zaxby's - with one catch.

It had to be the Zaxby's back home, where they could share their historic victory with their fans.

"It's amazing. Our community is real loyal - like right now we're at Zaxby's and Zaxby's is packed," Bears coach Jeff Mezzatesta said. "Our kids don't want to go any place fancy. They're like 'we just want to get home.' The whole community has followed the bus every place we've gone. They turned out in force today. We're just lucky. We're just a real special community."

Stephone Greene had 17 points, Dijon Goss added 16 and Janaz Sumpter put up 12 to pace Carvers Bay, which is heading to the state finals for the first time in school history.

"It's been a long time coming. We've knocked on the door now our fourth time. It's just awesome to get over the hump," Mezzatesta said. "We've had some great teams that have put us in this position. This group of kids, they took advantage of it. They came out and they just played inspired basketball today and did so well. I was really proud of them."

The Bears were able to execute a game plan centered around stopping Marion's guards, in particular 2A all-state selection B.J. Blue, Mezzatesta said.

"I think we were really able to isolate their guards. ... They're really good and they can shoot the ball. But I think we denied their guards really well and took them out of the game and did a good job of not letting get to the bucket and do the things they wanted to do," he said. "That, in turn, then did not allow them to get the ball as easy to their size inside. When we were able to do that, it sort of just changed the whole complexion of the game and allowed us to do what we do as far as pressing and getting after it a little bit."

Carvers Bay will take on Gray Collegiate in the Class 2A state championship game at 5 p.m. Friday at Colonial Life Arena in Columbia.

"Gray Collegiate is a great team," Mezzatesta said. "They're one of the best teams in the state regardless of classification."

With one historic win under their belt, the Bears will attempt bring another home to a community that is reveling in the excitement.

"I just can't say enough about it. It's just an amazing place with amazing people," Mezzatesta said about the Carvers Bay community. "They love these kids no matter what they do - win, lose or draw. In this day and age of what-have-you-done-for-me-lately sports, that's not what Carvers Bay is about."

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