REGION CHAMPIONS AGAIN - Lexington girls defeat River Bluff 62-37 to retain Region 5-5A title.
For the 2nd straight year and 3rd time in 5 years, the Lexington women's basketball team are Region 5-5A champions.
A dominant 2nd half lifted the Lady Wildcats to a 62-37 win of archrival River Bluff High School Thursday at home.
"This was probably the best feeling 1 because a lot of people doubted us," Lexington girls' basketball coach Molly Goodrich. "We struggled at the beginning of the season, but we improved so much. This team worked so hard this season. Worked hard in practice. They shot every single morning since the 1st of the year. We set high goals to be region champs and they worked so hard to achieve it. I'm just so very proud of them."
It was the 9th consecutive win for Lexington (15-8, 7-1), which turned a 25-23 halftime lead into a rout. Using a 2-3 zone trapping defense, the Lady Wildcats forced 11 3rd quarter turnovers in outscoring the Lady Gators 17-7.
Alexis Sexton scored 14 of her game-high 20 points in the 1st half, including 4 of her 5 3-pointers. Jenna Yanity had 9 of her 16 points as she outpointed the entire River Bluff roster in the 3rd quarter.
"Jenna, she's just fearless. She has fun out there and she feeds off of her defense. She's very good attacking the rim. I just couldn't be more proud of her intensity and just she loves defenses like that."
Hopes for a comeback faded minutes into the 4th quarter for the Lady Gators. Senior point guard and leading scorer Japonica Wilson fouled out with 9 points, all in the 1st half.
Samira Khalil was the lone scorer in double figures for River Bluff (15-9, 6-2) with 13 points.
With the win, Lexington will enjoy homefield advantage from the Class 5A Lower State playoffs when it begins Tuesday. Last year, the Lady Wildcats advanced to the Lower State final where it fell to eventual state champion Goose Creek.
"We've done our fair share of going through battles," Goodrich said. "And so, it's been a learning experience. But, they're so much fun to coach as this has been 1 of the easiest seasons I've had coaching them. I don't want it to end."
River Bluff will also open the Class 5A playoffs at home for the 1st time in school history.
White Knoll 42, Dutch Fork 41
The Lady Timberwolves outscored the Lady Silver Foxes 9-4 in the 4th quarter as they finished 3rd in Region 5-5A.
White Knoll (13-10, 5-3) will open the Class 5A playoffs on the road Tuesday against Summerville.
Kori Peterman had 16 points and Samara Brennan finished with 13 for Dutch Fork. If Dutch Fork (8-15, 2-6) earns an at-large playoff berth, it would face Lexington in the 1st round of the Class 5A playoffs Tuesday.
Gilbert 41, Pelion 38 (OT)
The Lady Indians (12-7, 6-2) finished as the lone team with a winning record in Region 5-3A and will open the Class 3A playoffs at home Monday against Battery Creek.
The Lady Panthers (7-16, 2-6) will travel to May River on Monday, while fellow Region 5-3A member Swansea goes to Wade Hampton.