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KERSHAW – The Lancaster Bruins notched a hardwood sweep of county rival Andrew Jackson, but it was a tough task.
In a pair of tight finishes, the Bruins held on for two hard-fought wins over the Volunteers.
The LHS Bruins capped the sweep with a 57-53 win, and the Lady Bruins downed the Lady Vols, 59-55.
In the boys’ game, Lancaster, which came on strong in the second half, trailed 38-31 at the break, and used a key 13-4 third-period charge to take a 44-42 lead with a quarter to play.
“We played a very tough Andrew Jackson team, and tremendous character and tremendous heart pulled us through tonight,” LHS coach Ricardo Priester said of the LHS win. “We never quit and maintained our poise. A key was the play and leadership of our seniors. Those guys really stepped up for us.”
The seesaw battle was tight, with the 5-3 Bruins snapping a 48-all draw on back-to-back old school three-point plays by junior guard Deuce Dunlap, who hit a team-high 17 points.
Dunlap’s second three-point play came with 1:09 left, but the determined Vols came right back.
AJ senior Avalon Truesdale, who led AJ with a game-high 20 – 10 in each half, hit a bucket and Dustin Eddins, with 13.2 seconds, drained a clutch trey to close the gap to one, 54-53.
Lancaster’s Marquivious Hall hit the first of two free throws with 11 seconds left, and on the second a wild scramble for the ball ensued on the LHS end.
Bruins’ alert senior Shai McCain came up with the ball and scored an inside bucket with 2.6 seconds left.
On the long AJ inbounds, LHS senior C.D. Pelham came up with the steal and the Bruins took the hard-fought win.
“I was proud of our guys and we fought for four quarters,” AJ coach Danny Wright said. “We left every bit of energy on the court. Lancaster made more plays down the stretch than we did, but I feel we can build on this effort. It’s a tough loss, but I feel it will help us.”
AJ, sparked by Quadarius Fair’s 15 points – all in the first half, built as much as a 12-point lead, 35-23, in the second period before the Bruins sliced it to seven, 38-31, at the break.
Lancaster kept coming in the third period, scoring the final nine points of the quarter to take a 44-42 edge with a period to play. Dunlap and Demarcus Montgomery each had four points in the third quarter to trigger LHS.
In the final period, the Vols tied the game twice, the last at 48-all, and then Dunlap delivered his back-to-back three-point plays to give LHS a lead it held to the final buzzer.
“This was a playoff atmosphere and that’s what we need as we face the No. 1 preseason pick in our region, Northwestern, on Tuesday night,” Priester said. “Our team battled all the way, and our fans were the sixth man and gave us a lift in a tough place to play.”
Dunlap hit 17, 12 after the break, to lead LHS. Demarte Simpson scored 11, all in the first half.
Hall had seven and Terrell Rivers netted six. Montgomery and Pelham each had five points. Pelham added 15 rebounds.
McCain netted four and Kevonte Strain added two points.
LHS was 13 of 20 at the line, while AJ made 12 of 22 foul shots.
Truesdale, who hit two points in the first meeting on Nov. 30, led AJ with 20 and Fair scored 15.
Eddins tallied 10. Zack Clyburn chipped in four. Wade Eubanks and Tilson Kirkland each had two points for AJ, which fell 68-53 in the first meeting at LHS.
The girls’ game was a battle to the wire as the revenge-minded Lady Bruins held on for the four-point victory. AJ took a 56-49 comeback win over LHS in the first meeting Nov. 30 at Lancaster.
Lancaster, built a 26-22 halftime lead and stayed on top.
LHS junior center Phoebe Johnson, who led the Lady Bruins with 23, hit 18 in the second half – 14 in the final period.
LHS, up 37-30 with a period to play, used a 17-11 surge to build a 54-41 lead with 1:48 to play.
The Lady Bruins, with a 47-41 edge, used a 7-0 spurt – five points from Johnson, to extend their lead to 54-41.
“We stepped up and made some key plays in clutch situations,” LHS coach Ronnie Robinson said. “We had to gut it out and we did.”
The game was a gut-wrencher in the final minute when the Lady Vols closed the gap.
Bre Wright, who led AJ with 13, nailed a trey and Elizabeth Scott drilled a three to cut the LHS lead to three, 56-53.
Shareese Ross and Johnson each hit a free throw to give LHS a 58-53 lead with 28.8 seconds left and the Lady Vols, who fell to 3-1, couldn’t get closer than three the rest of the way.
“Lancaster had an excellent game plan and they executed it well,” AJ coach Dennis Farmer said. “They outplayed us.
“Our girls fought to the finish and made a great comeback,” Farmer said. “We had some good looks, but couldn’t get all of our shots to fall.”
Johnson led Lancaster with 23 points, 14 rebounds and three blocked shots.
“Phoebe stepped up for us,” Robinson said. “She showed some maturity in some tight situations.”
Sha’Ron Brunson hit 12 for LHS. Ross netted nine points to go with two steals and five assists.
Chanda Nivens scored six and Aliyah Davis added five. Keyotta Garris and Kaela Robinson each had two points.
Wright led the AJ, rated sixth in Class AA girls basketball, with 13 and Dareisha Sowell scored 12. McKenzie Horton hit 11. Scott finished with seven and Summer Vick tallied six.
Anslee McDow had four and Brantley Ussery netted two.
Lancaster is home for a pair of region games this week as the Bruins host Northwestern on Tuesday, Dec. 11, and Rock Hill on Friday, Dec. 14.
The Vols will visit Kershaw County to face Class AAAA foe Lugoff-Elgin on Tuesday, Dec. 11.