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BOONETOWN – The surging Andrew Jackson Lady Volunteers made history Thursday night, and then again Friday to earn the Region IV-AA runner-up bid to the Class AA Upper State basketball playoffs.
The AJ girls rallied for a 49-43 win over Lee Central in Bishopville on Thursday night when the Lady Vols defeated the Lady Stallions for the first time ever on the hardwood.
The Lady Vols’ six-point win in the regular-season finale forced a special play-off game with the same LC girls for the IV-AA runner-up berth at North Central on Friday night.
The AJ girls, after their first-ever hoops win over the LC girls, then made it their first consecutive wins over the Lady Stallions in a 33-30 victory to wrap up second place in the region and a home playoff berth Tuesday night.
“We made history two times in a row,” AJ coach Dennis Farmer said. “It says a lot for these girls that they responded to back-to-back challenges.”
The game Friday was a battle for both teams, who at times showed fatigue and tired legs from three games in four days.
The Lady Vols, 15-8, made the plays late to net the win.
AJ, up 24-23 after three periods, took the lead at the 3:10 mark on an Elizabeth Scott trey, one of two on the night for her, for a 29-28 lead just after LC had taken a 28-26 edge.
“Elizabeth hit a big three for us and then we made clutch plays down the stretch,” Farmer said.
Bre Wright hit a free throw with 39 seconds to give AJ a 33-30 lead and the Lady Vols held on for the win.
“We had some key buckets and our defense was outstanding,” Farmer said.
Dareisha Sowell led AJ with 15 points, eight in the first half. Scott scored eight, six in the second half. Wright netted five. Halle Thompson had three and McKenzie Horton hit two.
“We reached deep and came home with a big win,” Farmer said.
LC’S Asia Wright hit nine and Shakira Atkinson scored eight.
On Thursday night in Bishopville, the Lady Vols set the stage for the special play-off game with a 49-43 win over the host LC girls.
The Lady Vols, who trailed at the half, 23-20, picked up the pace in the pivotal third period when they outscored the Lady Stallions, 16-10 to gain a 36-33 lead.
Bre Wright scored eight of her 19 points in the third quarter when AJ began to take control.
Elizabeth Scott, who hit 13, drained a trey midway the third period for a 30-27 AJ lead.
Scott later added a free throw for a 36-33 lead with a quarter to play.
The Lady Vols stayed in control and McKenzie Horton’s bucket with 3.9 seconds left sealed the six-point win.
“We finally accomplished something,” Farmer noted. “We challenged our team at the half and they responded. This team wants to accomplish something. This could be a program-changing win.”
Wright’s 19 led AJ. Sowell and Scott hit 13 each. Sowell had 10 in the second half and Scott hit nine in the first half.
Shakira Atkinson led LC with 13. Ariel Boyle had 12 and Asia Wright hit nine.
The Lady Vols will be at home to open the Class AA Upper State playoffs when they face Eau Claire at 7 p.m Tuesday.
The AJ boys weren’t as fortunate as the Lady Vols, falling to Central of Pageland, 69-67 in a special play-off game at NCHS on Friday.
The Eagles took the early lead and were able to stay on top to notch the win and playoff bid.
CHS led 35-34 at the break after the Vols tied the game at 26-all.
The Eagles opened a 51-46 lead with a period to go. Central held as much as a seven-point lead in the final period before AJ rallied only to fall short.
“This was a tough loss,” AJ coach Danny Wright said. “Our guys played hard and came up short. I was proud of the effort. We played hard every game.”
Truesdale led AJ with 30 points, 17 in the second half. Quadarius Fair finished with 22, 13 at the half. Wade Eubanks scored 11, eight in the opening half. Dustin Eddins added four.
Quentin Wallace led the Eagles with 20, 12 in the second half. Deaven Johnson and Jalen Covington each scored 18. Johnson tallied 15 in the first half, and Covington chipped in 14 in the second half.
“With nine returning players, we will work hard to get better,” Wright said.
The Vols finished 9-12.
On Thursday, AJ fell to the Lee Central Stallions, 72-46.
LC steadily pulled away for the 26-point win.
“Lee Central is a great team,” AJ coach Danny Wright said. “We couldn’t match Lee Central’s intensity tonight.”
Tilson Kirkland led AJ with 14, eight in the second half.
“Tilson played well in the middle for us,” Wright said.
Quadarius Fair scored 11, six in the first half. Avalon Truesdale had seven and Wade Eubanks added six on a pair of treys.
Dustin Eddins had four and Cameron McIsaac tallied three. Deshawn Kirkland added one.