Keenan opened a big week with a 47-31 home win over No. 6 Chapin on Tuesday night, setting up the first of two Region 4-3A girls basketball confrontations with Lower Richland on Friday at the Diamond Mine.
The fourth-ranked Blue Devils were not particularly sharp against the visiting Eagles, but were never in danger of losing their way either.
“We could have taken care of business early, but it was just one of those kind of games,” said Dreher coach Teresa Jones. “Coming into tonight I thought we were just about where we should be at this point of the season – we were coming together on the floor, gelling as a team. I saw some of that tonight, but we were just very inconsistent for some reason.”
Perhaps it was a case of looking ahead?
“I’m not sure that was the case, but there is no question we’ve been gearing up for the big game since we’ve been back since Christmas,” said Jones.
Chapin was scrappy, but doomed by turnovers and poor shooting, especially by leader ShaLeighya Sulton, who managed only one field goal – that coming early in the fourth quarter. Sulton, who scored the 1,000th point of her career in December and came into the game averaging 20.4 points a game, finished with seven points.
Still, the Eagles (12-6, 4-2) were very much within striking distance until Dreher star Kaydra Duckett took control of the proceedings two minutes into the fourth quarter. The South Carolina-bound four-year starter went on a 7-0 binge in a 68 second span that expanded Dreher’s lead to 39-23 with 4:04 left to play.
First, Duckett dropped in a 12-footer in the lane, followed by another mid-range jumper from the left side and then drained a 3-pointer from the right wing.
Duckett finished with 20 points, while youthful insiders Jhileiya Dunlap and Jalen Murray tallied eight points apiece in support. Dunlap started fast with four points in the opening four minutes of the game, but fell well short of her 16.3-point average.
“Jhileiya and Jalen are both talented kids but we need them to be more consistent,” said Jones.
Madyson White led Chapin with 12 points.
Dreher (13-2, 5-0) hopes things go a little better against LR this time around. The Blue Devils defeated the Diamond Hornets four times on the way to the 2012 state championship – including a win in the Upper State title game.
Lower Richland, however, swept the Blue Devils during region play during last season’s undefeated run to a state championship. The Diamond Hornets, who are ranked No. 2, improved to 15-1, 5-0 with a 66-24 rout of Camden on Tuesday.