LANDRUM — Landrum hung with Newberry for a half.
But the Bulldogs were as good as advertised.
Newberry used runs at the end of the first half and beginning of the second to separate itself and pull away to a 91-70 road win in the Class 2A quarterfinals on Wednesday night. The Bulldogs (25-2) advance to their second straight Upper State championship game on Saturday at the Bi-Lo Center.
“They are a very deep ballclub. We knew that coming in,” Landrum coach Lyn Smith said. “They were making shots from every angle of the court. Our guys fought hard and played hard, but that’s a very good basketball team right there.”
Newberry came into the third-round contest averaging 103 points in the playoffs. While not matching the total, it proved to have plenty of lethal weapons as five players finished in double figures. Kaheem Praylow led all scorers with 29 points, including 18 in the first half. He ended the first half with a dunk after Newberry went on a 7-0 run to break a 32-32 tie that gave the Bulldogs a 45-36 advantage at the break.
“He’s the most underrated player in the state of South Carolina,” Newberry coach Chad Cary said of Praylow. “I don’t know why people won’t look at him. I love him to death, and I’ll miss him next year. He’s been real good.”
The game got off to a fast pace as the Bulldogs narrowly led 22-21 after one quarter. Daniel Bridges knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers to tie the score at 32 apiece with 3:32 to go in the first half. Newberry, though, made the run at the end of the half and started the third quarter on another 7-0 run to build a 52-36 lead with 6:28 to go. The advantage continued to grow as the Bulldogs took a 71-51 lead into the final quarter.
“That’s what we kind of do,” Cary said. “We play so many kids, and they play so hard that we just wear people down. At a 2A level, we’re very fortunate to do that. But, I tell you, Landrum gave us one heck of a fight.”
The Cardinals’ deficit remained at 20 midway through the fourth quarter before cutting it to 78-63 with 3 minutes to go. Newberry shut down any hope of a rally at the free throw line.
Landrum (24-3) was led by senior point guard Truston Whiteside with 22 points, while Bridges added 17. Chris Schulman also finished in double figures with 13 points.
“I feel like we kept playing our hardest,” Bridges said. “Towards the end, I felt like it was out of reach. I felt like through the entire game that we had a chance. They played a heck of a ballgame. They were hitting everything they could hit. They are a really good ball team, and I hope they win state.”