Lower Richland had strength in numbers, and it was a strong advantage on Friday against Dreher as the Diamond Hornets weathered a second-half rally to win at home, 60-52.
The Diamond Hornets (16-1, 6-0), ranked No. 2 in the state, took the lead in Region 4-3A.
“We kept rotating players in and out, and I just think we had more bodies than them in the end,” coach Debbie Stroman said.
“We know we’re going to be able to outlast a lot of people. When you start freshman and sophomores, and you bring them off the bench that young, they’re just able to do so many things. …We’re going to run everybody out of this gym.”
Three Dreher players fouled out as the Blue Devils battled back from a 14-point halftime deficit.
Dreher coach Teresa Jones implored her team at the break to get back into the game.
“I told them ‘you are better than what you’re exhibiting. And if we allow this to take place and we don’t fight and make an effort to come back, we are an embarrassment to the Dreher Blue Devil uniform,’ ” Jones said.
She coaxed her team to boost its defensive intensity and use Lower Richland’s mistakes to spark the offense in the second half.
The Blue Devils (12-3, 5-1) followed her advice and chopped into the Diamond Hornet lead. Lower Richland came out flat.
“It really appeared that we were a little anxious,” Stroman said. “We were just trying to settle them down, let them get in a natural flow and keep doing what we’d been doing and not get away that, because it was successful.”
Lower Richland was scoreless for the first three minutes of the half, and Dreher pulled within 10 points before a Breshay Johnson layup got the Diamond Hornets going.
Four points and three rebounds from Jhileiya Dunlap, and seven points and two assists from Kaydra Duckett helped the Blue Devils make it a six-point game heading into the fourth quarter.
Center Makayla Johnson fouled out with under five minutes to go, and Duckett responded with a lane-driving layup that made it a one-possession game with 4:16 left to play.
Lower Richland held a three-point lead with 2:20 to go, and after Jalen Murray and Ashira Sims fouled out, the Blue Devils were vulnerable in the post.
“When you get into foul trouble, that changes the whole makeup of the game, so we had to alter, adjust and change what we do. Having three players to foul out, it’s kind of tough on you when you have a bench that has nine on it and they have a bench that goes on and on,” Jones said.
It had been a close game from the beginning.
The score was tied at 11 after eight minutes as erratic officiating allowed the game to get physical and turnovers kept both teams from establishing a rhythm.
But Lower Richland found the beat in the second quarter. The Diamond Hornets led by two with 4:33 left in the half, but back-to-back buckets from Dejah Williford and a Dreher turnover that led to Kameron Roach’s 3-pointer led to Lower Richland’s 16-4 run. The Diamond Hornets led 33-19 at the break.
Duckett led the game with 15 points, and Breshay Johnson led Lower Richland with 14. Roach, Williford and Dunlap each had 12 points.