Lower Richland’s girls are headed back to the Class 3A semifinals.
The Diamond Hornets defeated A.C. Flora 64-40 at home in Tuesday’s third round.
“I think the girls are proud to be there,” coach Debbie Stroman said. “Losing two great players from last year, doing what we’re doing with such a young squad, that’s something to be proud. It’s exciting.”
And although the Diamond Hornets (25-1) had faced – and defeated – Flora twice during region play, Lower Richland did not get ahead of itself.
Stroman said she told her team the that Falcons “want to win just as bad as you want to win.”
“They’ve had a great run through this postseason but, I said, we’ve got to end it here,” Stroman said.
The Diamond Hornets got off to a strong start, holding the Falcons scoreless for the first five minutes as they quickly built a double-digit lead.
“We came in confident,” Falcons coach Patti Moore said. “We just didn’t execute. We got away from the press break that we had worked on. Then it was just a matter of panic setting in.”
Despite their early deficit – which reached 14 points early in the second quarter – the Falcons trailed by 10 at halftime.
While Moore felt that deficit was manageable, Stroman said the halftime lead represented improvement over the regular season – where the teams were separated by two or three points at halftime.
“When (the Diamond Hornets) were in our preseason tournament, (the Falcons) wanted no parts of them. But tonight they were ready to play,” Moore said.
But Lower Richland was able to neutralize Falcons’ leading scorer Haniyyah Howard, holding her to five points – all on free throws.
Sherryce King led the Falcons (19-10) with 12 points, and Lower Richland’s Breshay Johnson posted a game-high 18.
LR: Breshay Johnson 18, Christian Brown 12, Hicklin 8, Roach 5, Washington 5, Nuttry 4, Bolton 4, Williford 4, Irving 2, Archie 2. ACF: Sherrye King 15, E. Howard 8, Tapp 8, H. Howard 5, Malone 2, Reed 2.