Dreher and Lower Richland have home court advantage one last time in the Class 3A state boys basketball playoffs when they host third-round games on Tuesday night.
The Blue Devils (24-3) have a tough assignment in the Lower State semifinals against a hungry, undefeated Darlington team that breezed to the Region 6-3A championship and obliterated South Aiken (74-40) and North Charleston (87-66) in its first two playoff outings.
In fact, both teams are on missions to restore some long-lost hoops glory. Dreher has made it past the third round in the state playoffs exactly one time since winning the Class 4A state championship in 1979. The Falcons have never advanced past the third round since 1995 when Darlington High was created by the merger of the old St. John’s and Mayo schools. The only Darlington-based boys team to ever hoist a state championship trophy in the modern era of SC prep sports (since 1970-71) is St. John’s in 1983 (3A).
Chris Brown leads the way for the Blue Devils, averaging 21.1 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.4 steals a game with 69 3-pointers. Quayshun Hawkins has been an all-around standout to date, averaging 15.3 points, 7.8 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 2.4 steals per outing, not to mention canning 67 field goals from beyond the arc. But it’s more than a two-man show at Dreher this season. Dominic Boyd (10.3 ppg, 3.3 apg, 2.2 spg), Tyler Harris (7.4 ppg, 4.6 rpg), Derrick Halback (6.5 ppg, 5.8 apg, 2.2 spg) and James Whitehead (8.2 ppg) have all been instrumental to the team success.
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The Falcons (23-0) have plenty of weapons, as well, but the man to watch is senior guard Jordan Scott, a College of Charleston signee who poured in 32 points, including six 3-pointers, in the rout of North Charleston.
Lower Richland (20-7) has won 12 of 13 games since coming out of the Christmas break, and has made it as far as the third round of the playoffs for the 10th time since 1997. The Diamond Hornets, however, have not advanced past the third round since reaching the Class 4A state title bout in 2004 (losing to Gaffney).
LR takes on a Greenville team that shocked top-ranked, unbeaten Greer in the second-round last week, pulling out a 73-72 win on Marquis Sloan’s 3-pointer at the buzzer from half court. The Red Raiders (14-11) have been exceptional of late in postseason play with a run of three straight Upper State (one overall title) between 2006 and 2008. Greenville avenged last season’s second-round loss to Greer the other night.