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Williamston wins; could benefit from Topsail forfeit

By By LAWRENCE KEECH, Staff Writer
COLUMBIA -- The Columbia Wildcats came up two minutes short in their bid to reach the second round of the NCHSAA Class 1-A state basketball playoffs.
Williamston coach Steve Gilmore wasn't complaining about the Wildcats' troubles after his Tigers claimed a 70-58 victory on Monday. The opening round victory got just a little bit sweeter when Topsail forfeited its playoff seeding.
Topsail, which received a first-round bye, forfeited its second-round game, citing an ineligible player. The forfeit could give Williamston an automatic victory and propel the Four River Conference team into the third round -- a final decision will be announced later today.
Gilmore's Tigers had the final word in Monday's match up with Columbia. Williamston rattled off a 7-2 run to close out the game as Wildcats' players began to foul out. The Tigers garnered five of those points at the free throw line with Benson Wiggins hitting a short jumper to account for the other two.
While that run helped Williamston claim its 12-point victory, it was actually a run in the final two minutes of the second quarter that turned the game.
With that in mind, Williamston went to work but managed just a one-point lead after the first quarter.
As the clock ticked down to the final two minutes of the half, Columbia found itself in foul trouble -- with three players facing three fouls each.
Meanwhile, Williamston's Danny Shack sandwiched a pair of baskets around two free throws by Tyrell Short. The six points were added to Williamston's 31-30 lead, giving the Tigers a 37-30 advantage. With Benson Wiggins draining the opening shot of the third quarter, Williamston's margin grew to nine. Following a Columbia score by Jarion Andrews, Williamston's Tavarus Little knocked down a three-pointer for a 10-point margin. Columbia got no closer than eight the rest of the way.
Omar Alexander had seven points in the first half, but it was teammate Justin McClees who led the way with 19 points. His first-half total surpassed all other players' total points for the contest. McClees finished with 22. Andrews scored all 10 of his points in the second half.
Varsity Boys
Williamston (70)
Harris 8, Ewell, French, Darius Coley 10, Tavarus Little 15, Leathers 7, Patterson 5, Burns, House, Benson Wiggins 11, Rawls, Short 7, Shack 7.
Columbia (58)
Alexander 7, Jarion Andrews 10, Bowser 3, Cleg, Hill, Justin McClees 22, Phelps 5, Rhoulac 7, A. Spencer, S. Spencer 4.
Williamston 20 17 21 12 -- 70
Columbia 19 11 18 10 -- 58