By Scott Rodgers

JOHNSTON — Daquaris Johnson not only had a monster game, but he also threw in a few highlight reel-worthy dunks that brought the Rebel faithful to their feet.

Strom Thurmond (1-0) routed Ridge Spring-Monetta (0-1) in the opener for both teams. Johnson contributed 19 points in the winning cause.

“When he goes, we go,” Strom Thurmond head coach Bo Rouse said. “He is a very good player. ... He got tired there in the second half, but he sucked it up and went out there and played. I’m proud of all of our guys and the job they did.”

The Rebels were playing short-handed, as football players Ty Brooks, Aaron Cook, Hykeem Brooks and Kendall Hill were all inactive. It didn’t matter, as Johnson proved to be a monster on both the offensive and defensive side of the court, contesting every shot and even chipping in a few blocks. The Rebels also benefited from a strong game by Deontrez Mealing, who had 15 points of his own. The sensational sophomores scored more than half of Strom Thurmond’s points.

The Trojans got a strong night from both Mike Jones and O.B. Gilliam, with both players scoring in double digits, and they were only down by six heading into the half. The third quarter is where things went awry, as RS-M was shut out and was down 19 heading into the final frame.

“That first half we were right there,” Ridge Spring-Monetta head coach Mark Wright said. “We probably missed about seven free throws, but we were holding our own with boxing out. They’re a little more physical than we are. We just have to get those rebounds; the second half is where it went wrong. We had opportunities in the third quarter, but they came with a full-court press, and we got a little jittery and turned the ball over. We kind of lost focus for a minute, some of that could be fatigue, but on the same hand I’ve got some guys who are getting their first taste of basketball at the varsity level.”

The press was an adjustment that the Rebels made at the half.

“What went right? The second half,” Rouse joked following the game.

“We made some adjustments. Their zone was giving us fits in the first half, so the coach made some adjustments and we went to that overload, we got the ball inside on them a bit and turned the tempo up. We went to that 2-2-1 press and that gave them fits. ...The defense stepped up, and we made some personnel changes. Mealing really turned it around when we brought him in.”

The Rebels’ next game will come on Friday when they host Butler, while the Trojans will look to get on the winning side of things on Dec. 4 when they host Saluda.

STHS 11 19 13 17 – 60

RSMHS 10 14 0 14 – 38

STHS (1-0) Daquarius Johnson 6 4-4 19, Deontrez Mealing 7 1-3 15, Jaylan Robinson 4 0-0 8, Jasergio Kennion 1 3-4 6, Josh Hamilton 2 0-0 4, Baylor Jones 1 0-0 3, Ryan Williams 1 1-2 3, Cale Hoffman 1 0-0 2

3 pointers – Daquarius Johnson, Jasergio Kennion, Baylor Jones

RSMHS (0-1) Mike Jones 5 1-2 11, O.B. Gilliam 3 1-5 10, Rafael Leaphart 3 0-2 6, Travious Wigfall 0 3-4 3, Mello Harris 1 0-0 2, Matt McGee 0 2-5 2, Desmond Brown 1 0-2 2, Alonzo Smith 1 0-0 2

3 pointers – O.B. Gilliam


The Lady Rebels also got a victory Tuesday night at the expense of the Lady Trojans.

Strom Thurmond (1-0) was led by Chesnee Robinson, who had 11 points. Shay Widner contributed eight points of her own, and McKayla Griffin also had six points.

The Lady Rebels’ defense clamped down on the Lady Trojans (0-1) booking the game with two quarters of only allowing three points. The last play of the game came on a three-point attempt by RS-M’s Porsha Quattlebaum, which clanged off the rim. She went to the line and made just one of three free throws.

“Our kids just played more aggressively; we played the same defense throughout the game,” head coach Yolanda Settles said. “We played primarily a zone, and there at the end they started to see the passing lanes and started to seal driving lanes.”

RS-M’s 6-foot-4 Raven Valentine, who dwarfed every player on the Strom Thurmond roster, was held in check, scoring only six points.

“We had a tough preseason, we didn’t win a scrimmage, but they fought and played some big kids,” Settles said.

The win was especially sweet for Settles, who is in her first year as head coach at Strom Thurmond.

“It’s just huge, it’s always nice to start on a good note and to see the kids playing hard, we only have seven players so it’s nice to see that we do fight through adversity,” she said. “I’m happy to come out with the victory and we’ve got a lot of work to do, but we found a way to win and at the end of the day that’s all that matters.”

STHS 7 10 7 9 – 33

RSMHS 3 11 13 3 – 30

STHS (1-0) Chesnee Robinson 5 1-2 11, Shay Widner 4 0-0 8, McKayla Griffin 3 0-0 6, Tierra Nick 2 0-0 4, Jasmine Mealing 0 0-0 3, Ebony Robinson 0 1-2 1

3 pointers – Jasmine Mealing

RSMHS (0-1) Ty’Miyan Tyler 2 0-0 6, Raven Valentine 3 0-0 6, Rasheeda Martin 2 1-4 5, Ty’Quazja Tyler 2 0-0 4, Porsha Quattlebaum 1 1-4 3, Ebony Hines 1 0-2 2, Tiffany Gomillion 1 0-3 2, Shanquita Brown 1 0-0 2

3 pointers – Ty’Miyan Tyler 2

Scott Rodgers is a graduate of Alvernia University and a staff writer at the Aiken Standard.