22-0! Lexington defeats River Bluff 68-52 for 1st place in region
Bragging rights and sole ownership of first place in Region 5-5A were not the only things on the line Tuesday night at Wildcat Gymnasium.
A victory by undefeated, 4th-ranked Lexington would extend the boys' basketball program's best start ever. For visiting 5th-ranked River Bluff, a win would break last year's single-season school record for victories.
A dominating start and strong finish enabled the Wildcats to prevail 68-52 over the Gators before a standing-room only audience.
Mason Carver led all scorers with 24 points, 15 in the first half as he helped Lexington take an 18-point lead and own a 29-13 halftime advantage. He also accounted for 12 rebounds and 5 steals and he and Bradley Foulks combined for 14 assists.
Those assists proved critical in the second half. After being held to a season-low in first-half points, the Gators erupted for 24 points in the third period.
Leading the comeback charge was the duo of J.T. Reeves and Andrew Robinson. They combined for 15 points in the third quarter and helped River Bluff get within a point at 35-34 with 2:26 left.
Reeves finished with 17 points and Robinson added 16. For a moment, Harris thought out 2 years ago when the Gators rallied from a similar deficit in the same arena to defeat the Wildcats.
"I'd be lying if I said it didn't cross my mind, but not for long," said Harris, who also picked up career win number 630. "They cut it from an 18-point lead to 1 and, obviously had all the momentum in the world. But I just never really saw panic on our guys' face. They were kind of calm, a little bit too calm. But they didn't panic."
A 3-pointer by Jonathan Corley, who finished with 12 points, sparked a 9-3 run to end the third quarter. His layup at the buzzer put Lexington ahead 43-37.
The Wildcats controlled the 4th quarter with 3-point shooting. Will Edwards scored 13 of his 16 points in the final period, including 3-4 in three pointers to push Lexington's lead back to double digits.
"Will Edwards just had ice water in his veins," Harris said. "But the thing that makes it so good is what I thought we really did a good job of was moving the ball, spreading it out. It wasn't like Will took people off the dribble or anything. We did a good job of screening, moving,driving and being very patient and knowing who to give shots for."
Lexington finished the game 14-15 from the foul line to improve to 22-0 overall, 4-0 in Region 5-5A. It will play host to White Knoll in the regular-season home finale Friday.
River Bluff (17-3, 3-1) will try to set the school mark again Friday against Dutch Fork.
In the opener, the 8th-ranked Lady Wildcats rolled to a 78-30 win over winless River Bluff.
Olivia Thompson scored 24 points with her future college coach, University of South Carolina's Dawn Staley, watching from the sidelines. Brooke Faulks added 15 points and Claire Tarlton added 12 for Lexington (16-4, 3-1).
Alandra Fallen had 7 points and Reagan Rozier finished with 6 for the Lady Gators (0-17, 0-4), who dropped their 26th straight game dating back to last season.