Wardlaw Academy boys' basketball coach John Spurlock can sense a desire in his players to go undefeated in region play.
The Patriots pulled that off last year, and the seniors want to see it continue to leave their mark on the program – plus, no senior class wants to see a streak end on its watch.
Wardlaw has an opportunity to complete that goal this week – and win a third consecutive SCISA Region 4-A regular-season title – by winning its final three games.
One of those wins is in the books following a 72-39 victory Tuesday at South Aiken Baptist, as the Patriots opened the game on a 34-0 run and cruised.
"I'm very pleased with our effort in the first half," Spurlock said. "I thought we handled the ball well. I thought we took the ball to the hole well. The defensive effort was quite good. They've got a couple really good shooters, and I thought we did a good job closing out on them and getting an opportunity to go on the offensive end."
Still remaining this week for Wardlaw (19-4, 8-0) are home games Thursday and Friday. The first is against Covenant Christian, which the Patriots defeated 71-45 on Jan. 28. The finale is against Curtis Baptist, which has only lost to Wardlaw – the Patriots' 74-36 win on Jan. 23 put them firmly in control of the region race.
Spurlock is pleased with how his team has handled playing as the frontrunner, and he knows it's going to take a strong finish to go 10-0.
"I think they took a good attitude into each game, that it's gonna be separate in its own way and they've got to put forth that effort each and every game," he said. "It doesn't matter if you're playing an 0-8 team or if you're playing an 8-0 team. You've got to go take care of business every night."
Senior Caleb Martin came into Tuesday averaging a double-double with 16.5 points per game and 12.2 rebounds per game to go along with 2.5 blocks. He's surpassed 1,000 career points and 1,000 career rebounds, and at 6-foot-8 he's an imposing presence in the middle.
Junior Avery Spurlock started the week second on the team in scoring (12.8 points per game) and rebounds (5.2), and he leads the Patriots in steals (3.5) and assists (3.3). Senior Mason Burgess was averaging 10.3 points per game coming into Tuesday, and seniors Dalton Williams (5.8 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.1 steals) and Reid Gossett (7.5 points, 3.9 rebounds) complete a potent starting five that has plenty of big-game experience.
The Patriots have plenty of speed, and they use it to their advantage. Their defensive pressure leads to a lot of turnovers, and they run the floor well in transition to cash in on those takeaways.
There's still plenty of basketball to play this season – Wardlaw hosts the region tournament beginning next Friday, followed by the state tournament – and the games are about to start carrying even more importance. That's where the Patriots' business-like attitude could lead to much bigger goals.