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Braves rally, edge AJ girls

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Cheraw girls charge late for IV title

By Robert Howey

BOONETOWN – No. 7 Cheraw used timely spurts to down No. 5 Andrew Jackson 53-49  in overtime for the Region IV-AA girls basketball championship on Saturday, Feb. 9 at North Central High School.

The Lady Braves used a 4-0 run in the final 30 seconds to force overtime with the game tied at 45-all.

In the OT, the Lady Braves, 20-5, snapped a 49-all tie with a late 4-0 surge to seal the win.

Cheraw’s Alexis Ford put the Lady Braves up by one, 50-49 and then the CHS finished on a 3-0 flurry to take the victory.

“I thought we were getting ready to put the game away, but we didn’t rebound well and missed on some critical rebounds,” Andrew Jackson coach Dennis Farmer said. “”It was a hard-fought, physical game.”

The Lady Vols, who trailed 23-15 at the break, rallied to gain a 45-41 lead with 35 seconds to play as junior forward Anslee McDow hit two clutch free throws to give Andrew Jackson a 45-41 lead.

Cheraw, which split a pair of regular-season games with Andrew Jackson, then answered with a 4-0 run to force the extra session.

The game was tight to the wire as Cheraw’s Crystal Owens, who hit nine points, hit two free throws with 2:15 to go to give CHS a 49-48 lead.

AJ’s Halle Thompson dropped in a  free throw to tie the game at 49-all, but Cheraw’s Ford hit a go-ahead free throw to spark a 4-0 run to lift the CHS girls to the win and league title.

AJ, with the loss, is the region runner-up and hosted a first-round playoff game on Tuesday, Feb. 12.

“Cheraw just had too many offensive weapons,” Farmer said. “We didn’t handle their press well and we lost our composure.”

Alicia McIver led Cheraw with 13 points and five steals. Danesha McCray, who had 12 rebounds, scored 10 as did Ford.

Owens finished with nine and Alexis Pitts posted eight points.

The Lady Volunteers,  who fell to 16-4, were led by Elizabeth Scott’s 14 points, nine in the second half.

Senior Bre Wright had 13 points, 10 after the break and Dareisha Sowell hit 12, nine in the second half.

McDow netted six and Thompson tallied three. McKenzie Horton had one.

The Lady Vols were hampered by a slow start as the Lady Braves led 7-3 after one period. The Braves, with a 16-12 run  in the second period, held a 23-15 edge. at the break.

The Lady Vols steadily fought back to gain the lead, but each time the Lady Braves were able to answer and force overtime and then the comeback win in the extra session.

Cheraw, as the top team in the region, will host Eau Claire on Tuesday, while AJ will be at home to face Columbia High School.

 The AJ-Columbia winner will move on to face the winner of the Keenan vs. Central game.