Selma's DeMario Gunn, right, drives to the basket during Thursday's opener against Francis Marion -- Robert Hudson

Francis Marion tops Selma in fast-paced season opener

Published 12:08am Friday, November 9, 2012

In a game that boasted an atmosphere similar to a playoff game, it came down to the wire, as the Francis Marion Rams held on to defeat the Selma Saints 59-50 on Thursday in the season opener.

Woodie Jackson, head boys basketball coach of Selma High School, said the Saints made too many mistakes down the stretch to get the win.

“We had too many turnorvers and played rushed in the first game,” Jackson said. “Inexperience hurt and we missed a ton of free throws. No excuses, we just lost.”

Francis Marion head boys basketball coach Johnny McCalpine, said it was no surprise to him that the game was close, because it’s a common trend for the Rams when they come to Selma.

“It’s the same thing every time we come down here. It’s going to be a gritty game and we just have to suck it up, and I think the guys did that tonight,” McCalpine said. “We made a couple more plays than they did and made a couple free throws at the end, missed some too, but made a couple of them when it counted.”

The Saints had trailed ever since 5:12 left in the first quarter, but mounted a comeback late in the fourth quarter.

With the score standing at 45-43 with little over three minutes left to play, Selma’s DeMario Gunn hit a runner in the lane that tied it at 45-45, but the Rams answered right back with a mid-range jump shot by Demetrius Bates that put Francis Marion back ahead 47-45 with 2:26 left to play.

With both teams in the bonus late, Selma’s Keshawn Ford went to the line and drained both free throws to tie the game once more at 47-47.

But it was Bates who put the Rams in the lead again with another mid-range shot with 1:55 left, making the score 49-47.

Selma didn’t go away, as Devontae Rembert hit a shot in the lane the following possession to tie the game once more at 49-49.

But Bates scored again, this time delivering the dagger from 3-point range that gave the Rams a 52-49 lead with 1:31 left.

The Rams forced a Saints turnover and Bates slammed it in on a fast break to extend the lead to 54-49 with 52 seconds left.

The Saints were forced to foul to extend the game late, as the Rams extended their lead from the line.

The Saints were hurt by missed free throws, as they went 15 for 29 from the charity stripe.

Gunn led the Saints with 15 points and six rebounds, while Rembert had 11 points and four boards, and Ford added 9 points, five rebounds and five assists for Selma.

Bates led all scorers with 22 points, while Mike Griffin added 18 points for the Rams.

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