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Lancaster High’s Region III-AAAA basketball opener was an eye-opener.
A packed and rocking LHS gym saw the Bruins stun No. 1 Gaffney in a 67-62 win over the Indians on Saturday afternoon.
The game, LHS’s first in over a week after postponements due to a winter storm, showed the Bruins in sync in posting the five-point win, Lancaster’s first over a top-rated team.
The seesaw game, originally set for Friday night, but moved to Saturday afternoon with school closed for the fourth straight day, featured 22 lead changes and nine ties.
The No. 5 Bruins took the lead midway the final period and stayed on top for the win.
A crucial 12-1 fourth-quarter run, ignited by guard Alan Robinson’s corner trey, triggered the Bruins’ decisive run.
Lancaster’s talented T&T combo – sophomore standout Sindarius Thornwell and senior ace Ron Trapps, netted back-to-back buckets to boost the Bruins to a 57-53 edge with 5:07 left.
A Quinshad Davis free throw sliced the LHS lead to three, 57-54, but Thornwell, who scored five of his 21 points in the key spree, delivered a crucial three-point play.
In the sequence, Thornwell, on a breakaway bucket, scored and drew an intentional foul from Gaffney’s trailing Willie Smith.
Thornwell, who added eight assists, six rebounds and three blocked shots, hit one of two free throws, and LHS kept possession with the intentional foul.
“That was a turning point, but we knew we still had to play,” Thornwell said.
LHS did play on as Forrest Woodard netted two free throws to give the Bruins a 62-54 edge with 2:40 to play.
The Indians, the defending Class AAAA state champions, showed why as they battled to the wire and made for a thrilling finish.
GHS, which saw its 14-game win streak snapped, charged on an 8-2 surge to slice the gap, 64-62.
At that point, Trapps, who led the Bruins with 22 points and nine boards, rallied LHS with a clutch bucket for a 66-62 lead with 25 seconds to play.
Ten seconds later, Trapps iced the win with a free throw.
“I knew we were going to win,” Trapps said. “We were prepared for them.”
Priester said Trapps and Thornwell played major roles.
“Sindarius and Ron Trapps played outstanding as always,” Priester said.
“Sindarius had several plays off his defense which led to transition baskets.
“Ron, as a senior veteran does, gave us clutch plays, especially with the game on the line,” Priester said.
Gaffney coach Mark Huff lauded the Lancaster effort.
“We knew how good they were and they didn’t disappoint,” Huff said. “They played awfully well.
“It was a heck of a game and both teams played hard,” Huff said. “We didn’t execute down the stretch.”
Lancaster boosted its chances, hitting 18 of 24 free throws, while GHS was 10 of 24 at the line.
“Foul shooting is an area where we’ve worked hard because we knew we had
to improve because it’s so crucial in any game,” Priester said.
The game swayed back and forth, with Gaffney up 21-20 after one quarter.
Lancaster used a 16-14 surge in the second period to take a 36-35 halftime
L.J. Peak hit 13 of his 21 points to lead GHS. Trapps tallied 16 of his 22
in the first two periods for the Bruins. Thornwell had eight of his 21 in
the first half.
Gaffney, with a 15-12 spurt in the third quarter, led 50-48 with a period
to go, but LHS answered with a 19-12 rally to net the victory.
“This was a total team win,” Priester said. “Our defense was really strong
and our offense was efficient as we distributed the ball well.”
Trapps led 12-3 LHS with 22 and Thornwell hit 21. Alan Robinson and
Woodard scored eight each. Qua Duncan, who had four rebounds, and
Brien Clyburn tallied four points each.
C.D. Pelham grabbed four rebounds.
“Shai McCain also came in and gave us quality minutes,” LHS assistant
Jarron Cauthen said. “Forrest Woodard was outstanding on defense and he
disrupted their guard play and hit some big shots in the first half.”
Priester said the home floor was a factor.
“We have to thank our fans who were the sixth man for four quarters,” he
said. “The atmosphere in here tonight was a great environment with two top
five teams battling to the wire.
“Gaffney is a state championship program and we want to be there,”
Priester added. “We took a step in that direction today.”