After splitting two region games during the regular season, Heathwood Hall and Ben Lippen get together to finally settle the question of Midlands SCISA boys basketball supremacy on Wednesday in the state tournament at the Sumter Exhibition Center.
The quarterfinal showdown is set for a 6:30 p.m. tip off.
Heathwood Hall has turned things around since losing early January SCISA Region 1-3A games to Ben Lippen and St. Joseph’s. Since hitting that bump in the road, the Highlands have won 11 of 12 games, beating both the Falcons and Knights in region rematches and finishing in a first-place tie with St. Joseph’s. HH opened the state tournament with a 59-36 preliminary-round rout of Florence Christian.
Corey Littlejohn and Mac Whalen are the Highlander leaders. Littlejohn is averaging 21.1 points, 7.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists a game and is shooting 57.1% from the field. Whalen is at 10.9 points, 4.6 boards and 2.8 assists per game, as well as leading the team in 3-point shooting with 35 bonus bombs.
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Morgan Whalen (5.0 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 2.9 apg) and Joseph James (5.3 ppg, 4.1 rpg) have also been vital to Heathwood Hall’s success.
Ben Lippen (19-8) saw its shot at finishing with at least a portion of the conference title end with two losses in the final week of the regular season. The Falcons, however, righted the ship by pulling out a last-second, 68-66 win over Northwood Academy in the state tournament opener.
Mitchell Deter, who fired in a career high 39 points, was fouled while launching a 3-point shot with 0.2 seconds remaining and calmly hit two free throws (intentionally missing the third) to give the Falcons the dramatic, upset win over the Chargers.
Derek Snelgrove and Gabe Smith were also key men in the season-extending win. Snelgrove tallied 16 points, grabbed nine rebounds and dished out four assists, while Smith pulled down 13 rebounds and scored five points.
Deter boasts a 20.4-point scoring average and has canned 69 field goals from 3-point range. The senior guard is also averaging 4.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.7 steals. Snelgrove (10.9 ppg), Drew Fraley (9.7 ppg, 6.3 rpg), Smith (7.1 ppg, 9.0 rpg) and point guard Chad Burnett (7.9 ppg, 3.3 apg) are the Falcons’ other key operatives.