COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Saturday’s game for Keenan wasn’t just for the Class 3A state championship. It was for assistant coach Tyrell Manning.
The Raiders assistant coach’s wife died earlier this season and the players wanted to make sure they were able to provide him with the championship ring he wanted for her.
Behind Raekwon Horton’s double-double, which included 19 points and 16 rebounds, the Raiders got that ring as they defeated Wade Hampton 55-32.
“He texted me personally and said, ‘I need this for her’ because I guess he’s getting the ring put in her tombstone. So, just carrying that on my shoulder, it was a lot of pressure, but I’m glad we came and got the job done,’” Horton said.
Wade Hampton got off to a fast start. With Brandon Brantley leading the charge, the Red Devils got off to a 7-2 lead to open the contest. But Raekwon got the Raiders back in the game. He scored seven of his nine first-half points in the period helping Keenan take a 14-13 lead after one.
The second quarter was an exercise in futility offensively for both squads. Keenan and Wade Hampton combined for 12 points in the frame, but it was Joe Barrino’s dunk in the final moments of the quarter that kept Keenan ahead 20-19 at halftime.
Keenan came out strong in the third quarter behind the play of Horton and Samajeh Echols. The duo combined for 10 points as the Raiders went on an 8-1 run in the frame. That would be the key for the Raiders heading into the final quarter as they held onto a 35-28 lead.
The Raiders would secure victory in the fourth after putting together a 15-2 run to extend their lead to 23, their biggest of the night.
Jazian Gortman finished the night with 13 points in the win for Keenan.
For head coach Zach Norris, this is his seventh state title. It also gives Keenan High this year’s state championships in boys’ and girls’ basketball.
“There’s going to be a party tonight,” Norris said. “You can bet that.”