Dee Delaney and Terrell Hazell often know the plan before they hear their coach yell from the sideline.
After a made basket, the Whale Branch Early College High School seniors will jump into a man-to-man press, with teammates following suit. Whale Branch coach Linc Lyles doesn't mind. By the time he calls the press, the chance might be lost.
His faith is in his seniors, and they showed the way late in Friday's Class 1-A second-round basketball playoff game, forcing turnovers and blitzing Timmonsville during the final minutes of a 62-46 victory. The Warriors' late run buried any tension after Timmonsville pulled within six points early in the fourth quarter.
Whale Branch plays host to C.E. Murray on Tuesday in the Lower State semifinals. The War Eagles advanced by beating Baptist Hill, 67-52.
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Delaney -- recently named all-state in Class 1-A -- scored 11 of his 19 points during the final quarter Friday, most on a variety of acrobatic moves off the fast break. Hazell scored seven of his nine points during the fourth quarter.
Delaney, a receiver on the Warriors' football team, looked the part during the fourth quarter, blowing past defenders and at one point catching a long pass over his shoulder before turning to put the ball in the basket.
"I just got to realize I'm bouncing the ball instead of holding the ball in my hand," Delaney said with a smile. "It's just hand-eye coordination, really. If you know how to handle the ball, it's the same way in football."
Timmonsville finally allowed the Warriors to run after sending a defender back quickly during much of the first half. Whale Branch settled for its halfcourt sets, and guard Justin Rhode provided the lift, scoring 18 of his 20 points in the first three quarters. The smooth-shooting freshman attacked the Timmonsville zone with four 3-pointers.
The zone worked pretty well otherwise. Timmonsville's length allowed its zone to cover a lot of space. The Whirlwinds affected passing lanes and blocked shots during the first quarter and were able to cover ground when they went box-and-one to slow Rhode.
"You could tell they wanted to play the game in segments," Lyles said. "And I think that's the way everybody's going to try and slow us down."
A shallower bench also prevented the Warriors from running more of the game. Without brothers Simeon and Michael Middleton, Whale Branch stuck to a nine-man rotation.
But Whale Branch eventually broke out and ran as it likes to do. The Whirlwinds crumbled.
"We just weren't taking care of the ball like we were supposed to," Timmonsville guard Franklin King said.
Class 1-A boys basketball playoffs
Whale Branch 62, Timmonsville 46
Timmonsville (10-11)-- Franklin King 21, Tarik Jones 12, Tamarik Jones 9, Jalen Moore 4.
Whale Branch (21-3)-- Justin Rhode 20, Dee Delaney 19, Terrell Hazell 9, Denzel Daniel 7, Chavone Simmons 3, Jay Abney 2, Charles Jiles 2.