The hero of Monday's semifinal playoffs in the S.C. Pro-Am league was Duane Notice, but he won't be around tonight to try and win the championship beginning at 7:30 at Heathwood Hall Episcopal School.
Instead, Notice, who led all Gamecocks in scoring Monday with 32 points in an overtime thriller that sent the team featuring teammates Michael Carrera and Brian Steele home, will be home in Canada visiting family one last time before the semester starts.
In Carrera's place will be Sindarius Thornwell, whose team lost Sunday in the first round of the playoffs. Thornwell, who came along with teammate Demetrius Henry to watch the games Monday, volunteered to replace Notice and was accepted with the condition that he solely play the point guard position Notice manned so well for his squad that also features Gamecock center Laimonas Chatkevicius, who finished with three points and 11 rebounds.
Carrera did all he could in a losing effort, capping a strong run through the S.C. Pro-Am this summer by scoring 25 points to go with 13 rebounds. Steele had a rare off night, scoring only three points on 1-of-6 shooting, including 1-of-5 from 3-point range, one of which could have tied the game and forced a second overtime.
The second semifinal of the night featured an intoxicating matchup between Gamecock past and future greats in former point guard Devan Downey squaring off against incoming freshman point guard Marcus Stroman.
The duel lived up to its billing, as Downey, also a ferocious defender, was under Stroman's shirt the entire game and yet could not faze the confident Stroman, whose poise with and control of the basketball under pressure and in traffic is astonishing for someone so young.
Stroman matched Downey shot for shot, dishing out nine assists and scoring 19 points to Downey's 21 points. The star, however, wasn't the two point guards but, yet again, was freshman TeMarcus Blanton, who scored 22 points in fearless-yet-under-control action. His team, with Downey and Reggie Theus Jr, who was absent Monday, will face Thornwell and Chatkevicius.
Mindaugas Kacinas had a nice night as well in a losing effort for Stroman's team, scoring 15 points to go with 11 rebounds.
The S.C. Pro-Am announced its awards Monday night. League MVP went to VT Taylor, a former Troy standout who averaged 35 points a game for Honda of Columbia (which featured Justin McKie and Carlos Powell).
Here are the honors for this year's Pro-Am:
Zam "Buck" Frederick