Region titles, playoff berths still up for grabs on eve of playoffs
The regular season is technically over for boys' basketball in Chronicle Country. The finalizing of playoff seedings, however, has just begun.
The results of Thursday night left the post-season positions and fates of several teams still in the air. In fact, this weekend will feature 3 to determine a region champion and 2 playoff berths.
It starts at 6 pm Friday at Gilbert High School. Pelion will face archrival Swansea Friday to determine the 4th and final playoff berth out of Region 5-3A.
The following day, a doubleheader is scheduled at Irmo High School. Lexington and White Knoll will meet at noon to determine 3rd place in Region 5-5A, followed at 2 pm by a matchup for the top spot between Region 5-5A co-champions Dutch Fork and River Bluff.
Should Lexington lose and River Bluff win, the 2 teams could face each other again to open the Class 5A playoffs on Wednesday. The same is true if Dutch Fork wins and White Knoll loses and, like Lexington, earns an at-large playoff berth.
(NOTE: Irmo High School operates under a Lexington/Richland School District 5 clear bag policy at sporting events which you can see by clicking here. In addition, the district utilizes metal detectors to screen spectators.)
River Bluff 50, Lexington 48
A pair of free throws by Myles Jenkins with 11.2 seconds left enabled the Gators to escape with a share of their 1st ever Region 5-5A shared with Dutch Fork.
Jon Cranshaw led the Gators (18-7, 5-3) with 14 points and Tae'Jon Myers and Landon Stills had 11 and 9 points, respectively.
Lexington had a 27-14 halftime lead, only for River Bluff to open the 3rd quarter with a 16-0 run to go ahead 30-27.
River Bluff head coach Benjamin Lee said the team was inspired by a halftime pep talk assistant coach Joe Ben Watson. He reminded the team of how much they've overcome this season and even referenced a phrase from the song "Overcomers".
"Life's not about where you're at, it's about what you're about to do and we were able to overcome," Lee said. "The kids start making shots they weren't making before and things started happening. Hats off to the kids."
The Gators extended their lead to 6 points in the 4th quarter. Cameron Scott sparked a comeback with a 3-pointer and making 1-2 free throws to tie the game at 48 with 13 seconds left.
The 8th grader led the Wildcats (14-11, 4-4) with 15 points.
Following the free throw, Jenkins was fouled and made both of his free throws in front of a boisterous Lexington student section to put the Gators on top. Lexington's Cameron Scott drove to the basket for the game-tying attempt, but lost the basketball and the Gators dribbled out the clock.
Dutch Fork and River Bluff split their 2 meetings this season with each team winning at home.
White Knoll 56, Dutch Fork 53
A win by White Knoll over Lexington 2 years ago on the final game of the season sent the River Bluff boys' basketball team into the playoffs.
Gators' head coach Benjamin Lee promised a steak dinner to his former Lexington High teammate and White Knoll boys' basketball coach Devin Liferidge.
Thursday night, Liferidge earned a 2nd dinner on Lee's tab. The Timberwolves prevented the Silver Foxes, led by another former Lexington player, Dutch Fork head coach Brett Jones, from clinching the Region 5-5A title.
"That's 2 steak dinners and I'll be happy to buy them from wherever he wants to go," Lee said.
Jalen Jennings' 3-pointer in the final seconds lifted White Knoll to a win which also moved it into a 3rd place tie with Lexington. He finished with 11 points, while Eric Williams led White Knoll with 13.
The Timberwolves (17-10, 4-4) and Wildcats split their regular season meetings and will face each other Saturday at Irmo to determine which team will advance to the playoffs as a 3rd seed.
Houston Jones had 14 points and DiMarco Johnson had 11 to lead Dutch Fork (16-10, 5-3), which was seeking its 1st outright region title since 2003.
Pelion 39, Gilbert 38
Niko Austin and Tucker Moore each scored 12 points and DeShontez Gray had 10 to lead the Panthers.
Pelion (7-19, 2-6) will now look to upend Swansea for the 2nd time in a week.
Despite the loss, the Indians (3-17, 3-5) still finished in 3rd place in Region 5-5A. They will open the playoffs at Wade Hampton Tuesday.
Airport/BC to air
on WACH 57 TV
The final Rush's High School Hoops Game of the Week will have post-season implications.
Archrivals Airport and Brookland-Cayce are locked in a 4-team race for 2 playoff positions in Region 5-4A. A win by the Eagles (12-13, 3-6) would secure them either a 3rd or 4th place berth.
Meanwhile, it's win or go home for the host team Bearcats (12-13, 2-7). A victory could also potentially mean another game for Brookland-Cayce to qualify for the post-season depending on the outcome of the Midland Valley/South Aiken contest.
The boys game will start at 7:30 pm or following the girls' game at 6 pm. The doubleheader is available on Spectrum Cable (Channel 1250) and streamed on www.wach.com or the WACH 57 phone app.