Top-ranked, defending Class 4A state champion Spring Valley returns to action on Jan. 5 at Hartsville. The Vikings (11-2) have been off since going 3-1 and finishing in second place at the high-profile Crescent Bank Holiday Invitational in Myrtle Beach – the event commonly known as the girls edition of the fabled Beach Ball Classic.
Spring Valley dropped a tough 58-53 decision to Redan (GA) in the championship game on Dec. 23. The Raiders, ranked No. 7 in the nation by USA Today, broke open the hotly contested game by out-scoring the Vikings 8-2 in the final 2:46 after two free throws by Asia Dozier staked SV to its last lead. There were five ties and 12 lead changes in the tournament finale. It was the 38th straight win for Redan, which is the reigning Class 5A champion in the Peach State.
Dozier capped a fine tournament showing by scoring 18 points, grabbing five rebounds, dishing out two assists and coming up with four steals in the title game. Xylina McDaniel and Briana Robinson both scored 13 points in support of Dozier.
McDaniel, Dozier and Robinson were the big guns for the Vikings during its four-game run at The Beach. McDaniel averaged 16.8 points, 8.0 rebounds and 2.8 steals, Dozier averaged 14.8 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.1 steals and Walker chipped 14.5 points a game.
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Robinson led the way with 13 points and four assists in an easy 67-21 win over Socastee in the tournament opener. Robinson took team honors again in a 67-55 second-round win on Stephenson (GA) with 25 points while shooting 47% from the field (7-for-15) and 90% at the free-throw line (9-for-10). McDaniel had a big outing, as well, with 22 points and nine rebounds.
Savonia Bryant’s two free throws with less than one second remaining allowed the Vikings to nip Peddie (NJ) School 51-50 and advance to the championship game. Bryant, who was scoreless to that point, found herself in the pressure spot after grabbing an offensive rebound and getting the call on the follow-up shot just before time expired. McDaniel finished with 23 points, nine rebounds and four steals. Dozier contributed 19 points. It was a tough outcome for Peddie School, which was looking to get back to the finals for the second year in a row.
The Vikings played the final three tournament games without starting guard Shaquita Walker in the lineup.