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Lady Cavs roll by AJ for Upstate crown

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By Robert Howey

GREENVILLE – The Christ Church Lady Cavaliers have the last two Class A girls state basketball crowns in their trophy case, with another in Class AA in their grasp.

CC, 26-2, looked quite capable of taking the AA girls hoops gold after rolling to a 63-25 win over Andrew Jackson High School in the Class AA Upper State title game Friday at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville.

The Lady Cavs started strong and didn’t let off the hardwood gas en route to the 38-point win over the Lady Vols.

Christ Church, with its win, advances to face Class AA girls Lower State champion Mullins, which moved on with a 79-46 win over Batesburg-Leesville at the Florence Civic Center.

The Lady Cavs, setting the tone and tempo early, shot to a 4-0 edge on AJ.

The Lady Vols’ Alexxus Sowell, who along with AJ junior guard Danielle Ussery each hit eight points to lead the orange, scored to slice the gap, 4-2, but then Christ Church reeled off a 12-0 dagger for a 16-2 lead.

CC’s Lawren Cook, who tallied nine points, hit five points in the Lady Cavs’ spree for the 14-point lead after one period.

Christ Church pressured the Lady Vols into turnovers, which resulted into transition baskets.

“We play good defense and our defense fuels our offense,” said Christ Church coach Ja’Net Vicks. “We knew we had to play good, hard defense. We wanted to control the tempo and that way we make easy baskets.”

As good as it was for the Lady Cavs, the worse it was for the Lady Vols.

CC outscored AJ, 17-4 in the second period to forge a 33-6 halftime spread.

The Lady Cavs opened the second period with a  11-0 flurry.

CC senior post player Bailey Breazeale led the Lady Cavs charge, scoring five points in the run.

“We didn’t stop their transition,” said AJHS coach Sha’Ron Robertson. “We didn’t do the best job meeting passes and when we didn’t get the ball, it became their ball. We didn’t get in a rhythm, and when we did get a rhythm, it was too late.”

Breazeale, who hit 19 to lead CC, scored nine in the first half. Junior guard Paula Pieper, who hit 14 points, netted 11 in the first half, most from the perimeter.

Sowell, who scored all of AJ’s first half points, said the Lady Vols didn’t come out strong.

“We got ourselves in a lot of bad situations and they put a lot of pressure on our guards,” Sowell said. “They were quick.”

An Ussery trey early in the second half made it 34-9, but the Lady Cavs countered with an 11-0 run to make it 45-9. Breazeale was again the CC beast, hitting seven points in the surge.

“As young a team as we are with only three seniors, nerves might have got us,” Robertson said. “That might have contributed, but we kept playing and battling. We never quit.”

Christ Church built a 53-14 lead after three before posting the win and solid hope for the state crown.

“We set goals and getting to the Upper State title game was one,” Vicks said.

Breazeale led the way with 19 and Pieper posted 14. Cook chipped in nine.

Marissa Powe and Emmy Dickerson each scored six. Cooper Stansell scored four and Erica Harris had three. McCall King added two.

Sowell and Ussery each hit eight to lead AJ, which finished 18-8. Makaylen Crosby had four. Paris Clyburn scored three and Cassidy McKittrick had two.