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KERSHAW – The Andrew Jackson High School girls basketball team, which has had its share of hardwood struggles in the last few seasons, is quickly gaining hoops respect.
The 6-1 Lady Volunteers highlighted AJ’s host holiday basketball tournament – the annual Comporium Christmas Classic – taking the championship with a 60-42 win over county rival Buford on Wednesday night.
The Clover High boys, in a nail-biter, edged Great Falls, 54-53 to take the boys tournament crown.
The Lady Vols, who have won five straight, took control early against the rival Lady Jackets to post the 18-point win.
AJ, strong at the start, bolted to a 20-7 first-period lead and stayed in control.
“Buford is a much improved team over last season and we knew we had to come out and play well,” AJ coach Dennis Farmer said. “Our goal is to get 10-plus points a quarter and we hit on that and more in the tournament.
“The key is our defense,” he said. “We’re able to create scoring opportunities with our defense to force turnovers and we’re converting those into points.”
Bree Wright, who led AJ with 20 points, hit 14 in the first half when the Lady Vols forged a 31-15 lead.
“I thought we did a good job of going out and getting the lead and then protected it to the end,” Farmer said.
AJ owned a 47-29 lead with a period to play.
Dareisha Sowell also was in double figures with 17, 10 after the break.
McKenzie Horton hit nine, seven in the second half. Rebecca Johnson followed with six and Leah Kennington chipped in four. Oxi Shropshire and Ashleigh Aiello each scored two points.
Wright, who scored 37 points in two tourney wins, earned girls MVP honors. Sowell and Johnson were each named to the all-tournament team.
Buford was led by Carley Bailey’s 18 points, 12 in the second half. Kendall Boone and Hannah Knight each tallied eight points. Daphne Honeycutt hit five. Erica Blackmon scored two and Catie Rowell added one.
Buford’s Bailey and Knight were selected to the all-tournament team.
Blue Eagles edge Devils
In the boys’ championship game, Class AAAA Clover led only once, but it counted the most as tourney MVP Cody Bauer hit a seven-foot jumper with two seconds left to lift the Blue Eagles to an exciting 54-53 win over Class A power Great Falls High School.
Great Falls, the defending boys tournament champion, started strong, buildiing a 38-20 halftime lead.
Clover clawed back in the third period to close to within, 42-37 with a quarter to go.
The game was tight to the wire, with Bauer, who only scored six points, hitting the winning bucket.
“Great Falls jumped on us early, but we didn’t quit and held our composure,” said Clover coach Dudley Lybrand who saw his Blue Eagles outscore the Red Devils, 34-15 in the second half. “I thought a key in the second half for us was we played better defense.”
Lybrand also praised Bauer.
“Cody didn’t have a high scoring night, but he was solid and hit a big shot for us,” he said.
Xavier Wiley led Clover with 13 and Aaron Miller hit 11.
Xavier Holmes netted 23 and Alstevis Squirewell netted 14. Shaq Simpson added nine points.
Bauer earned the boys tournament MVP. Clover all-tourney picks were Aaron Miller and Darian Harris.
GFHS’s Squirewell and Holmes earned all-tournament honors.
In the boys’ consolation game, Buford topped Andrew Jackson, 66-61.
Buford led 13-9 after the first period and took control in the second quarter with a 24-13 run to take a 37-22 edge at the break.
Brett Estridge hit nine of his 12 points in the second quarter to key the Jackets.
Buford kept the upper hand in the second half to hold a 52-38 lead after three periods.
AJ rallied late to slice the gap to 61-59, but Buford’s Logan Segee, an all-tournament pick, hit five of six free throws in the final 20 seconds to seal the BHS victory.
“I knew it would be a tough game, but we had an answer,” BHS coach Neil Couch said. “It came down to free throws and we made them when we had to.”
Buford was 30 of 43 at the line, while AJ hit 31 of 38 at the stripe.
Segee led a balanced Jackets’ attack with 16, 10 in the second half. Marcus Brown and Estridge each hit 12. Desmond McGriff scored 10, eight in the second half. Qua Truesdale tallied nine points.
Johnathan Soliman had three points. Mikeem McKinney and Donavan Lang each scored two.
AJ, 3-7, was led by Tremaine Jackson’s 20, 15 in the second half. Quadarius Fair, an all-tournament pick, hit 17, 13 in the second half.
Robert Massey added 14 points. Dustin Eddins and Chris White netted three each. Wade Eubanks and Quincy Grier each scored two points.
In the girls’ consolation game, Chesterfield defeated North Central 42-34.
Kristan White led the Lady Rams with 12 and Alexis Melton scored 10.
North Central was led by Elexis Bass with 12 and Simone Bracey’s 11. Bracey was named to the all-tournament team.
Chesterfield’s Kenise Thompson was selected to the all-tournament team.
Lady Vols win opener
Andrew Jackson opened its play in the two-day tournament with an impressive 63-31 win over North Central.
The Lady Vols built a 33-14 halftime edge and cruised to the 32-point win.
Dareisha Sowell paced AJ with 22 and Bree Wright followed with 17. Rebecca Johnson netted seven.
Oxi Shropshire scored five. Ashleigh Aiello netted four. McKenzie Horton and Brandy Truesdale each had three points. Elizabeth Scott chipped in two points.
Saleita Rollins scored 11 for the Lady Knights.
The Andrew Jackson boys fell in their opening round game, falling to Great Falls, 36-31.
Great Falls led 16-15 at the intermission, but used a key 12-0 run to open the second half to build its lead.
The Vols rallied to close the gap to 33-31, but the Red Devils held on for the narrow win.
Xavier Holmes led GFHS with 11 and Alstevis Squirewell scored nine.
Quadarius Fair paced AJ with nine and Dustin Eddins added seven. Robert Massey scored four. Tremaine Jackson, Wade Eubanks and Chris White each had three points. Chris Harris finished with two.
Clover captured an 83-58 win over Buford in the opening round of the boys bracket in the annual Comporium Christmas Classic at AJ on Tuesday afternoon.
The Blue Eagles, up 40-27 at the break, soared in the third period with a pivotal 25-9 surge to take control of the game.
Clover led 22-14 after one period and held a 13-point edge at the break. CHS was up 65-36 after three periods before taking the win.
Jacob Jamison led the Jackets with 16 and Logan Segee scored 15 and added 10 rebounds. Qua Truesdale tallied nine points.
Marcus Brown had six points and six boards for the Jackets. Mikeem McKinney netted five and Brett Estridge scored four. Jonathan Soliman scored three.
Clover was led by Cody Bauer’s 21 points. Darrian Harris hit 18 points.
Buford opened the girls tournament play with a 39-35 win over Chesterfield on Tuesday afternoon.
The Lady Jackets built a 39-27 spread with three minutes to play, but the Lady Rams rallied. Buford held on for the win.
Kendall Boone and Carley Bailey each hit 10 points to pace the Buford attack. Boone scored five in each half, while Bailey tallied six in the opening half.
Hannah Knight scored seven and Daphne Honeycutt chipped in six.
Erica Blackmon had four and Catie Rowell finished with two points.
Chesterfield was led by Yaseen Joines with 14.