COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO)- Gamecock fans are helping send one super fan to Phoenix this weekend to watch a team he never stopped believing in compete in their first final four appearance.

Carlton Thompson, also known as Gamecock Jesus, told ABC Columbia at the Universities Pep Rally that he wouldn’t be able to see the Gamecocks play in New York during the sweet 16, but he wish he could.

In five hours a GoFundMe account surpassed its goal of $3,500 to send the loyal fan to basketball heaven.

This will be the first time in program history that the USC men’s basketball team has made it to the final four.

“Believe in the Gamecocks, because they believe in themselves,” Thompson said.

COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO)- From the bars to the fountains, die hard Gamecock fans painted the city garnet and black after the men’s basketball team booked their final four ticket.

Hundreds of fans took a dip in the Water Fountain outside of Thomas Cooper Library and the Fountain in Five Points.

The Madness in the Midlands has become somewhat of a tradition for fans during the NCAA Tournament.

Fans were also seen chanting throughout the streets, even to the point of blocking roadways.

GEORGETOWN, S.C. (AP) _ The FBI says its work in a wooded area of South Carolina has brought authorities closer to resolving the case of a New York teenager who disappeared during a spring break trip that she took without her family’s knowledge in 2009.

Multiple media outlets report an FBI supervisory agent said Sunday the work over three days in Georgetown County “progressed the investigation” into the disappearance of 17-year-old Brittanee Drexel of Rochester, New York.

She was last seen leaving a Myrtle Beach resort on April 25, 2009.

Authorities have kept mum about what they were doing and what they appeared to be looking for in the area with K-9s and an excavation unit that were brought in Saturday.

FBI supervisory agent Don Woods said authorities are confident they’re “getting closer to resolving this matter.”

SUMTER, SC (WOLO)- Sumter Police are continuing to investigate after a man was killed in a crash late Saturday night.

The wreck happened before 11:45 p.m. on Broad Street between Wilson Hall and Mason roads.

Officers say initial reports indicate a Nissan Sentra and a Yukon met nearly head on after the Yukon turned off Mason Road in the wrong direction onto Broad Street and into the path of the Sentra.

The front-seat passenger of the Nissan was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver was taken to Palmetto Health Tuomey where he was treated and released. Their names are being withheld pending notification of family members by the Sumter County Coroner’s Office.

The driver of the Yukon, Michael Demore, 44, of Sumter, was taken to Palmetto Health Tuomey and treated before being released into police custody and booked at the Sumter-Lee Regional Detention Center. He is charged with felony driving under the influence resulting in death.

The S.C. Highway Patrol and its Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team have been asked to assist in the investigation.

COLUMBIA, S.C. (March 26, 2017) – The University of South Carolina men’s basketball team will arrive at Colonial Life Arena at approximately 10 pm this evening.  Fans are encouraged to greet the team in the front of the arena, near Foundation Square (main entrance of CLA).

Coach Frank Martin and Athletics Director Ray Tanner will say a few words to the crowd.

The Gamecocks will travel to Phoenix, Ariz., to participate in the Final Four after defeating Florida, 77-70, to capture the East Regional Championship on Sunday at Madison Square Garden in New York City. It will be Gamecock men’s basketball first appearance in the NCAA Final Four.

NEW YORK CITY (WOLO) — The Gamecocks have stepped over mountains on their run through the NCAA Tournament. On Sunday afternoon, at the Mecca of basketball – Madison Square Garden – each player and Frank Martin took turns climbing the ladder and cutting the nets down.

Seven-seed Carolina came back from a seven-point halftime deficit and defeated SEC rival, four-seed Florida, 77-70 to win the East Regional Championship and advance to the Final Four for the first time in program history.

It’s been a March Madness of news for the garnet and black: first tournament bid since 2004, first tournament win since 1973, first Sweet 16 in the modern format since the field expanded past 32 teams, and first ever Elite 8 appearance. The Gators, who split their regular season series with the Gamecocks, each team winning at home, made seven threes of their 12 attempts in the first half. But USC’s defense kept UF cold from the outside in the last twenty minutes, making zero of their 14 attempts.

Sindarius Thornwell, who was named the East Region’s “Most Outstanding Player”, shined once again. The SEC Player of the Year scored 26 points, pulled down 7 rebounds, and recorded two steals against the Gators, all matching his NCAA Tournament averages. PJ Dozier added 17 points, also making the All-East Tournament team with “Sin”.

With the victory, USC will continue their season in the suburbs of Phoenix, heading west to Arizona where they’ll take on their first one-seed of March Madness in West champion Gonzaga. The Gamecocks and Bulldogs will battle at University of Phoenix Stadium, two wins from a National Championship, on Saturday April 1. Each team will be making their debut in the National Semifinals.

The outcome also gives this 2016-17 Gamecocks team the single-season wins record in program history with 26, breaking the record just set by last year’s USC squad.

Stay tuned for postgame reaction with Sports Director Mike Gillespie up in New York City all day on ABCColumbia.com and ABC Columbia News at 11.

COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO)– Get ready for local artists to open up their works to Columbia.

64 artists in the City of Columbia, Lexington and Richland counties will take part in the Columbia Open Studios.

According to organizers, this is the seventh annual event and it is free to the public.

It is being sponsored by 701 Center for Contemporary Art. The artists will open their studios throughout the event dates.

Saturday April 1, 10 am and Sunday April 2, Noon

COLUMBIA, S.C. (USC SID) — Led by four in double figures, including a game high 24 points from senior guard Sindarius Thornwell, South Carolina posted a 70-50 victory over third-seeded Baylor on Friday night in Sweet 16 play to advance to Sunday’s Elite Eight matchup versus No. 4 seed Florida (2:20 p.m. ET/CBS). South Carolina held Baylor to just 30.4% (17-56) from the field, while the Gamecocks connected on 23-of-50 (46.0%) attempts, including eight 3-point field goals in the win. The Gamecocks have now won three-straight and are 4-2 in neutral site contests this season.

GAMECOCK QUICK HITS

– South Carolina is in its 109th season of varsity basketball in 2016-17.
– On the sidelines, Frank Martin is joined by associate head coach Matt Figger, assistant coaches Perry Clark and Bruce Shingler, and director of operations Andy Assaley.
– South Carolina head coach Frank Martin is now 9-4 all-time in NCAA Tournament games following Friday’s victory over Baylor. Martin’s first six wins in the postseason event came while he was the head coach at Kansas State. Martin also led his 2009-10 K-State squad to an Elite Eight appearance, while each season that Martin’s team have advanced to the NCAA Tournament it has won at least one game.
– With a win over Florida on Sunday, South Carolina will set a new school record for wins with 26 this season. The Gamecocks have had 25 wins three times, 1969-70, 2015-16 and 2016-17.
– With the Gamecocks selection to the NCAA Tournament this season it marks the first time that South Carolina has had back-to-back postseason bids (NIT in 2016) since Carolina advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 2004 and then the NIT in 2005 and 2006.
– South Carolina is 4-2 in neutral site contests this season, as the Gamecocks upset then-No. 18/16 Syracuse at the Barclays Center on Nov. 26, before suffering a three-point loss to Seton Hall at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 12, a loss on March 10 to Alabama in the SEC Tournament Quarterfinals in Nashville, and the NCAA Tourney wins over Marquette, Duke and Baylor.
– South Carolina faced Seton Hall earlier this season at Madison Square Garden, with the Pirates winning the contest, 67-64, on Dec. 12.
– Rookie guard Rakym Felder’s hometown is Brooklyn, he played high schools hoops at Lincoln High, where he averaged 16.0 points and six assists per game as a senior.
– Did you know? Frank Martin’s sister and her family live in Brooklyn and own several restaurants in the area.
– Since Frank Martin has taken over as head coach at Carolina, the Gamecocks are 4-1 in games played in New York City with wins over Manhattan, Iowa State and Syracuse at the Barclays Center, the loss to Seton Hall in December at Madison Square Garden and Friday’s victory over Baylor.
– Over the course of the last two seasons, Carolina is 8-3 in neutral site games.
– Senior Guard Sindarius Thornwell has pulled in several awards this postseason for his outstanding season on the court. He was named the SEC Player of the Year, as well as garnering All-SEC First Team and All-Defensive Team accolades from the league coaches. He was named a unanimous selection to the AP All-SEC First Team and he earned USBWA All-District III (Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland) honors and he was named a Basketball Times Third Team All-American.

GAMECOCKS UPSET DUKE TO ADVANCE TO SWEET 16

Seventh-seeded South Carolina scored 65 second-half points in an upset win over the second-seeded Duke Blue Devils last Sunday to advance to its first Sweet 16 (current Tournament format) with an 88-81 victory. Carolina was led by five players in double figures, with senior guard Sindarius Thornwell once again leading the way with 24 points, six rebounds and five assists. Sophomore forward Chris Silva tallied a career high 17 points, and notched his fourth double-double of the season also grabbing a team high 10 rebounds. It was South Carolina’s first win over its old ACC foe since Dec. 12, 1970.

SCOUTING FLORIDA

Entering Sweet 16 action:
– Conference rival Florida earned the four seed after winning 24 games in the regular season.
– Florida and South Carolina split the regular season series, with each team winning on its home court.
– The Gators are coached by Mike White, who is in his second season with the program.
– Sophomore KeVaughn Allen leads the team in scoring with 13.4 points per game. Canyon Barry (11.8) and Devin Robinson (11.4) also average double-digit points per game.
– The team had to adjust after losing top rebounder John Egbunu (6.6 per game) in February. The junior went out with an injury against Auburn on Feb. 14.
– In the national rankings, Florida is 13th in scoring margin (+12.2) and 23rd in turnover margin (+3.1).

NEW YORK CITY (WOLO) — Click the video above from ABC Columbia Sports to hear PJ Dozier break down the Gamecocks’ first ever Elite 8 game as they prep for familiar foe Florida.

(7) USC faces (4) UF at Madison Square Garden Sunday afternoon at 2:20 p.m.

NEW YORK CITY (WOLO) — Click the video above from ABC Columbia Sports to hear Sindarius Thornwell’s Saturday comments ahead of the Gamecocks Elite 8 showdown with SEC rival Florida.

(7) USC and (4) UF play for a spot in the Final Four, what would be Carolina’s first trip to the National Semifinals, at 2:20 p.m. at Madison Square Garden Sunday.

 

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