With strong defense, and help from a late Spring Valley turnover, the Irmo Yellow Jackets notched a 48-44 overtime win to secure the Region 4-4A girls basketball title on Saturday at Spring Valley.
“We’ve done it all year,” Irmo coach Monica Williams said. “We have been behind in games, we have won close games. Any kind of adversity we have faced in a game, the kids have responded, so, I expected nothing less.
“I really thought that overtime could go either way. (Spring Valley coach Anne) Long is such a great coach and Spring Valley’s such a traditional powerhouse. I just didn’t know, but I figured we would give it all we got. I’ve got kids with a lot of heart and a lot of guts.”
Irmo improved to 22-1, 9-0.
“We knew the championship was on the line and we hadn’t won it in a long time,” Williams said, “and to win it here is just incredible.”
In the final two minutes of overtime, a Spring Valley turnover and four free throws from Ke’Asia Jackson put the Yellow Jackets over the top.
Jackson posted eight points overall, while Taiylar DeMoss led the Yellow Jackets with 12 points.
Spring Valley’s Cierra Carter had 28 points.
Long was pleased with her team’s rally to get back in the game, despite the last-minute shortfall.
The Vikings, who dropped a 17-point decision to the Yellow Jackets in their first meeting, had a shot at sharing the region title with a win. After trailing through the second and third quarters, Spring Valley made a play for it in the fourth quarter.
“It was a great run there,” Long said. “I think we really dug down and made that comeback, and really pushed it and got after it hard. All credit to my team for coming back.”
Down by 12 with about six minutes to go, the Vikings got a boost from a 3-point bucket from Megan Davis.
Then Carter sank two free throws. Akia Dunlap’s basket, off an assist from Keisha Greene, chopped the lead to five.
With less than four minutes left in regulation, Davis knocked down another 3-pointer, making it a one-possession game for the first time since the first quarter.
Then Dunlap’s lane-driving hook shot tied the game with 3:10 to go.
Irmo’s defense held, refusing to give up the game-winner. When the Vikings gave up a turnover, Irmo could not put the game away either.
But the chance at the title continued to drive the Yellow Jackets.
“I just told them this is going to be the best moment of your life, if you can score these next four minutes out and just dig deep,” Williams said.
The Vikings led in the first quarter, but Irmo turned the tables quickly at the start of the second. Williams said her team had to score inside, outside and anywhere they got a shot to survive.
“We knew we were going to have to put the ball in the basket to beat Spring Valley, and I think we did that,” Williams said.