Sumter High's Britt shows off range on his way to Hines Furniture Athlete of the Week


Region V-5A has been a grind for the Sumter High boys basketball team.

The region has been as competitive as they come, with three teams fighting hard to earn a home playoff game with a second-place finish behind top-seeded St. James.

When the Gamecocks traveled to Carolina Forest on Friday for the start of a three-game road trip, a victory was essential.

But for most of the Gamecocks, shots weren't falling.

Enter Eli Britt.

The freshman got the call up to varsity midway through the season to add some offensive punch from the outside. He did that in spades on Friday. He scored nearly half of Sumter's points in a 43-36 victory, keeping those hopes for a home playoff game intact. His performance also helped him earn recognition as the Hines Furniture Athlete of the Week.

"It means a lot," Britt said of the award. "I felt like I was going to win just because I had the support."

SHS head coach Bryan Brown was thrilled to see the young guard have a breakout moment on the road.

"It was really important for us. Playing on the road at the start of a three-game road trip, we talked about how much we needed to be focused, and Eli works extremely hard," Brown said. "He puts in countless hours working on his game, and he just reaped the benefits of all that hard work."

For any shooter, confidence is key. Britt was feeling good the second his first warmup shot from behind the arc left his hand.

"I was just coming in to play with confidence and shoot with confidence," he said. "(I felt it) as soon as I shot the first one in warmups."

Britt was sweltering hot early, knocking down a trio of threes in the opening quarter. He followed with another triple in the second, scoring all but four of Sumter High's first-half points.

Of course, with success comes defensive attention. Britt knew he'd have to adjust as the game wore on.

"I knew they would close out hard on me, and if we kept rotating it, it would come back to me and I'd be more open," Britt said. "Or I could just attack the close out and get somebody else open or get to a floater or something."

The ability to make adjustments is the most important lesson Britt has picked up since making the jump to varsity earlier this season.

"It's way different," Britt said of making the jump to varsity. You can't do the same stuff you could do playing with the kids in your age group. You've got to change what you've been doing and adapt."

Britt added eight points in the second half, finishing with 20 on the night.

"His ability to get his shot off quick, he's really tough to guard," Brown said. "It's going to be hard for him to get stopped because he just needs a second to look at the rim, and if he gets a good look at the rim, he's really efficient at knocking it down."

The Gamecocks have a young team, so Brown thought it was important to see a new face have an impressive offensive performance. Varsity staples like BJ Brown, Jamie Tedder and Caleb Jenkins are used to filling up the stat sheet, but you can't rely too much on one or two players.

"He's one of the guys that we really look forward to being an integral part of this program in the future. He's one of the many guys we have that makes us feel like this program is going to be good moving forward," Coach Brown said. "To close out this season, see him step his level of play up at this point of the season, is big. It makes us feel like we have a run late in the season."

After a tough 46-35 loss to St. James on Tuesday, the Gamecocks have just a trip to Conway left before the end of the regular season. Britt is looking forward to putting in the work to make sure he can help extend the season as much as possible.

"We just have to have good, intense practices to get everybody on the same page and have good energy, and I think we can win," he said.