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The game came down to converting clutch free throws and the Andrew Jackson High girls came through.
The Lady Vols’ Bre Wright hit two critical free throws with 9.9 seconds to play to lift AJ to a 60-58 win over Eau Claire in the opening round of the Class AA girls Upper State basketball playoffs.
After Wright, who hit 21 points, netted her free throws, EC’s Logan Jones went to the line for the chance to possibly tie, but misfired on the first one and AJ took the victory.
“Our girls win when they have to win,” AJ coach Dennis Farmer said. “Bre hit some clutch free throws for us.”
Wright’s two free throws at the end of the third period gave AJ its first lead of the game, 47-45.
The contest was tight to the wire when Wright converted again for the victory.
EC held a 54-50 lead, but AJ’s Elizabeth Scott, who hit 11 points, nailed a key trey to close the gap to 54-53.
“That was a big three for us and quickly closed the gap,” Farmer said. “It gave us a spark to the finish.”
Eau Claire held a 16-15 lead and used a 11-2 run to take a 27-17 lead.
Jones hit 23 points, the bulk in the first half, to give the Lady Shamrocks a 33-28 halftime edge.
In the second half, the AJ defense clamped down on Jones and held her to nine points.
“Our defense on Jones in the second half was a key for us,” Farmer said. “This was a team win.”
Dareisha Sowell, who hit 11 points in each half, scored 22 to lead AJ. Wright netted 21 and Scott finished with 11. Halle Thompson hit four and Anslee McDow added two points.
Jones led the Lady Shamrocks with 23. Tameka Sumpter hit 13 and Sharabeccia Jones had 12.
AJ advances to face 18-2 Palmetto in second round play tonight. The Lady Vols travel to Palmetto to meet the Mustangs, who rolled to a 60-20 win over Newberry on Tuesday night.
LHS Lady Bruins fall
Lancaster High School experienced a short stay in the Class AAAA Upper State girls basketball playoffs on Tuesday when the Lady Bruins fell to No. 1 Dutch Fork, 69-34.
The 23-3 Lady Silver Foxes, up 17-7 after one period, held a 38-17 lead at the break and cruised to the win.
DFHS led 57-20 after three quarters.
“Their pressure hurt us and they did a good job of capitalizing on turnovers,” LHS coach Ronnie Robinson said. “It was a disappointing night, but overall I was pleased with the season.
“We made progress and our goal was the playoffs and we reached that,” Robinson said. “We wanted to go deeper, but we’re pleased we made it. We can build on this and hope to go further next season.”
Donnesha Shuler led DFHS with 17. Shelby Curtis hit 11 and Sydney Shull scored 10 for the Lady Silver Foxes.
LHS sophomore guard Kyia Hough hit 21, including three treys, and she was six of eight at the foul line. Phoebe Johnson netted eight and five rebounds. Tarah Tipton tallied four and Aliya Davis added one. Tipton had four boards.
The LHS seniors are Shantail Evans, Tori Cunningham and Tarah Tipton.
Dutch Fork advances to host J.L. Mann tonight.
Lady Jackets defeated
Buford had a tough night in the opening round of the Class AA Upper State playoffs, falling to Region III-AA champion Columbia, 52-22.
“We got off to a slow start and were a little intimidated against an outstanding Columbia team,” BHS coach T.J. Armbrust said. “I thought we calmed down in the second half and played better.”
Buford, which finished 11-10, trailed 14-0 after one period and 30-3 at the half.
Columbia held a 41-13 lead after three before taking the win.
Carley Bailey led BHS with seven. Daphne Honeycutt hit five and Brittany Faulkner netted four. Arianna Ray and Erica Blackmon each had three points.
Alexis Foulks led Columbia with 15 and ReRe Victrum added 13 for the Lady Caps.
“It was a tough way to end our season, but I’m proud of these girls,” Armbrust said. “The girls worked hard and have come a long way. We have built a solid foundation for the future. We never gave up and fought hard all season.”
The Lady Jackets lose three seniors, Daphne Honeycutt, Hannah Knight and Brittany Faulkner.
A highlight of the Lady Jackets’ season was winning the annual Comporium Christmas Classic at Andrew Jackson High School over the holiday break.
Columbia, 18-4, hosts Saluda in Class AA Upstate second-round play tonight.