COLUMBIA, S.C. (WTOC) - Whale Branch played with no fear of the two-time defending state champs.
Even facing a juggernaut that has cruised to the Class AA state title each of the last two years in their backyard, the Warriors never blinked.
They just couldn’t pull the upset.
Whale Branch fell to the War Eagles 53-39 in Columbia Friday night, extending a long championship drought for Beaufort County Schools boys basketball teams.
“Regardless of the situation, we battled. I’ve said all year long, we win as a team and we lose as a team. We are the best team in South Carolina,” Whale Branch head coach Jim Raymond. "We may not have the best athletes. We may not have the best shooters. But we competed as a team. And I’m so proud of them.”
The Warriors gave the War Eagles everything they could handle through two and a half quarters. After an early Whale Branch run was met by an even bigger run from Gray, the Warriors were able to respond in kind.
A massive putback dunk from Wofford signee Nick Pringle late in the first half got the Warrior crowd going, and Whale Branch trailed by just two at halftime.
The War Eagles pushed their lead to nine at the end of the third quarter, but the game never felt out of reach until Pringle fouled out with 5:44 left to play.
From there, the War Eagles stretched the lead into double digits and claimed their third straight state title.
Whale Branch finishes the season with a 21-7 record and as Class AA state runners-up.