River Bluff completes second-half comeback to advance in SCHSL playoffs

Posted 2/15/24

Yasir Cromer's 31 points sparked the Gators' comeback victory over Gaffney.

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River Bluff completes second-half comeback to advance in SCHSL playoffs


The River Bluff basketball team escaped the first round of the SCHSL 5A playoffs Wednesday night with a 71-68 win over Gaffney after recovering from a 15-point deficit. 

Gator guard Yasir Cromer scored 31 points, including 8-11 shooting from the charity stripe, to lead his team past the Indians and into the second round. Cromer was a mismatch problem all night, driving to the pain with ease and earning and-one opportunities. 

Gaffney started the game with all the momentum after nailing their first seven shots. The Indians jumped out to a 12-0 lead and were up 14-2 by the time they missed their first look five minutes into the game. 

“They shoot it. We knew that they could shoot it, and they came, and they were comfortable, and everything's within their range,” Gator coach Benjamin Lee said. “Maybe it's hard to really tell how good at it they are on film, but the guys got a good dose of it there in the beginning.”

Gaffney ended the opening period up 11, 21-10. The Indians expanded their lead during the first part of the second quarter. With 3:30 left in the half, Gafney extended the difference to 15. 

From this moment, something changed. The Gators started getting stops and scoring buckets. River Bluff quickly began chipping away at the lead, cutting it to 10 with over a minute left and single-digits by the break. 

“Those kids battled,” Lee said. “I mean they came, and they punched us in the face, and our kids showed a great deal of resiliency. So I think that makes you even more proud of what young people can do.”

River Bluff carried its momentum into the second half and started the third quarter on a 10-2 run to tie the game at 38. 

Three minutes into the half, the Gators earned its first lead of the game. The next Gaffney possession, Blake Wilson swatted a shot off the glass, which resulted in a Cromer layup on the other end, putting the team up three. 

The two teams exchanged buckets for a few possessions until the game was tied at 45. River Bluff held its biggest lead of the game with 45 seconds left in the third when the team went up four. 

The Gators held a one-point lead entering the final quarter, and the game remained an even battle until the very end. River Bluff kept a one-point lead four minutes into the quarter, up 57-56. 

Both teams hit huge shots down the stretch to keep the game exciting. River Bluff made three go-ahead baskets before the final minute, but the Indians responded to each one of them. 

Gaffney first tied the game at 57 after splitting a pair of free throws, but Cromer gave the Gators the lead after hitting a tough layup through contact, drawing a foul. The Indians responded to this with a three, tying the game again. 

Dax Avery made a three to put River Bluff up again. Gaffney responded to this with their own three from Markell Hollis. 

Luke Chapman grabbed an offensive board on River Bluff’s next possession and found a cutting Alex Robbins for a layup. Freshman Rickey Littlejohn tied the game again on Gaffney’s possession. 

There was now under a minute left and both teams sat at 65 points. River Bluff had the ball and found the hot hand, Cromer in the corner, who nailed a three. 

After the previous three go-ahead buckets, the Gators failed to get the stop they needed. This time though, they did. 

Wilson grabbed the rebound, was fouled and marched to the free-throw line where he knocked down a pair of beauties with 19 seconds on the clock. 

Gaffney hit a quick three to extend the game and cut the lead to two. Chapman was sent to the line and hit one of two, keeping it a one-possession game. 

With no timeout left, Gaffney could only inbound and run up the court for a prayer. The Indians managed to get a clean shot off before the buzzer sounded, but it was a two-pointer and it missed.

Aside from Cromer, two other Gators scored double-figures. Avery finished with 11 points, including three made threes, and Robbins had 10. 

Chapman, an All-Region player, finished with six points after three fouls in the first half limited his playing time. 

“Not having him on the floor is bad news for us,” Lee said. “But again, another moment of resiliency from the rest of the group. They sucked it up. They battled. They fought. Got him back on the floor, and did a bunch of good things for us when he was able to.”

Three Gaffney players had 10-plus points. Hollis led with 24 points, Kaleb Phillips had 17 and Shedrick Sarratt had 11. 

River Bluff earned their spot in the next round with the victory. This time the team will have to go on the road if they want to advance. 

The Gators travel to Mauldin on Saturday for its second-round contest. 

“Our goal is to prepare the best we can, have the best game plan, the best effort, and then we'll see what happens,” Lee said. 

Wednesday’s county playoff scores 


Dorman: 53, White Knoll: 38

Lexington: 64, Goose Creek: 38

Cane Bay: 53, Capin: 39

Summerville: 78, Dutch Fork: 63

Wilson: 53, Irmo: 42


Camden: 83, Swansea: 19

Gray Collegiate: 68, Chesnee: 14

Saluda: 44, Batesburg-Leesville: 18

Crestwood: 67 Gilbert: 42

Second round schedule

Friday Boys

Gray Collegiate vs. Abbeville

Friday Girls

Dutch Fork vs. Summerville

Saturday Boys

River Bluff at Mauldin

Lexington vs. West Ashley

Saturday Girls

Gray Collegiate vs. Mid-Carolina

SCISA schedule


Northside Christian girls vs. Christian Academy (at Wilson Hall)


Northside Christian boys vs. Carolina Academy (at Wilson Hall)

River Bluff basketball, Yasir Cromer, Luke Chapman, Gaffney basketball


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