THE WAIT IS OVER! - Lexington girls defeat James Island 67-50 to earn 1st state semifinal berth since 1979
The year was 1979 when the Lexington girls' basketball team won its second state title in school history.
Exactly 40 years later, the Lady Wildcats are a victory away from playing for another championship.
Monday's 67-50 victory over James Island at the Wildcat Gymnasium sent 7th-ranked Lexington to the Lower State finals. The Lady Wildcats will meet a familar foe in top-ranked Goose Creek, the team which has eliminated them from the post-season the last 2 seasons.
Coming through for Lexington (24-4) were its "Alpha Dogs", the self-moniker adopted by the senior players. The duo of University of South Carolina commits Olivia Thompson and Hannah Kumiyama (softball) and Brooke Foulks combined for 56 points and took turns carrying the Lexington offense.
"It's very special," Lexington head coach Molly Goodrich said. "This is very special group to me because I've had them since they were freshman. I wasn't ready to be down with them.
"I always get a little depressed when basketball's over and so, today I woke up and I'm like 'this is not the day I'm done with them."
With top scorer Thompson held to 5 first-half points, Foulks provided inside scoring and rebounding. She scored 15 of her 19 points in the first-half, most of the points coming off assists from Kumiyama and offensive rebounds.
Foulks' scoring gave Lexington a 33-24 halftime advantage.
"Olivia struggled in the first half and she started getting down on herself," Goodrich said. "I tell these girls that we all have to help each other. Somebody's got to pick each other up and today it was Brooke. Hannah stepped up and Olivia, we just said 'You know, you can't force your game. Let your game come to you' and she did."
The 3rd quarter opened with Thompson hitting a 3-pointer as she found her offense enroute to surpassing 1,900 career points. She scored 14 of her game-high 24 points in the period to increase the lead to 51-38.
In the 4th quarter, it was Kumiyama's turn to provide timely scoring and defense. She finished with 13 points and had a couple of steals to help stave off a Lady Trojans' comeback bid.
The game ended with an assist to Foulks for a layup and the celebration began for the Lady Wildcats. Up next is a "revenge game" with the Lady Gators (21-1) at 5 p.m. Saturday at the Florence Civic Center.
Goose Creek defeated Fort Dorchester 59-36 on Monday to reach a 3rd consecutive Lower State final. The Lady Gators are undefeated against Palmetto State teams this season and are seeking a 2nd state title in 3 years.
"We have a huge chip on our shoulder from last year and the year previous," Thompson said. "We just want to prove ourselves. This team is totally different that we've been the last 2 years. We've got a chip on our shoulder and we want to take care of business."
MONDAY'S GIRLS PLAYOFF SCORES
Bishop England 57, Swansea 27
East Clarendon 57, Gray Collegiate 28
TUESDAY'S BOYS PLAYOFF SCHEDULE
Mullins vs. Gray Collegiate (at Allen University) 6 p.m.
Conway vs. Lexington 7 p.m.