By FRANCIS FEDOR
Sumner basketball easily won its playoff opener, 68-28, vs. Strawberry Crest but fell two days later, 68-54, to top seed Newsome on Friday, Feb. 10. The teams are set to play for the fourth time on Friday Feb. 16 at Newsome.
The Stingrays continued their dominance over Strawberry Crest for the 2022-23 season, winning for the third time this season. Sumner won the first contest, 87-64, at home, back on Dec. 23. The Stingrays traveled to Dover on Jan. 18 and left with the 64-57 victory. The Chargers were clearly looking forward to the opportunity, after losing by only 7, at home, just under a month ago, to test their progress. However, that enthusiasm would be short lived as the Stingrays raced out to an 18-9 advantage to end the first quarter. Sumner tightened on defense and held the Chargers to a 6-point second quarter and headed to the locker room with the 31-15 half-time lead. Both quarters ended with momentum building three-pointers at the buzzer. The Stingrays didn’t slow down in the third, posting a 26-2 advantage in the third, and they started to clear their benches and get the backups some playing time. Sumner was coached by Ryan Bethoney, stepping in for head coach Jamie Turner, and kept the team from missing a beat. The Stingrays were led by standout senior Josiah Harding with 20 points, including a huge 13-point third quarter and three other players scoring 10 each. KJ Martin had nine for the Chargers.
Sumner played Newsome for the third time this season. The team faced the Wolves in the fifth game of the season, a tilt between the one-loss Stingrays and undefeated Wolves, with the Stingrays coming out on top 53-43. Newsome would get the win during a Christmas week tournament, defeating Sumner 48-45 in a very tightly contested game at a neutral location. The 7A District 11 Championship game featured Newsome as the top seed and Sumner as the number two seed. Newsome is tough at home, going 12-2 on its home court. The Stingrays held a one-point lead after the first quarter. It was a backbreaking 26-11 Wolves second quarter that was too much for the Stingrays to overcome. The game was pretty much even the rest of the way, but the big Newsome second quarter made the difference. Josiah Harding posted 17 points for Sumner. Josiah has stepped up and has been a big factor in the Stingray success this season.
Even with the loss, Sumner will advance and join the District 7 State Tournament, slotted in Region 3, and will get another chance to defeat Newsome. The Stingrays enter the tournament as a seventh seed in the region, while Newsome earns the second seed. The game will be played at Newsome on Feb. 16 at 7 p.m. Sumner saddled the Wolves with their first loss back in early November and has a chance to avenge Friday’s loss by ending the Wolves season and giving them their last loss.
Coach Turner and his assistants will have the squad fired up and ready to go.
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