GREENVILLE - Keenan saw its frustration against the Southside come to an end with its 66-43 victory in the Class 2A Upper State final at the Bi-Lo Center on Saturday.
Southside (23-4), the two-time defending state champion, was minus three players who had been suspended in the wake of the brawl after Wednesday's third-round victory against Abbeville. The Tigers led Keenan 28-26 at halftime before fading.
"They used their size and their strength against us," said Southside coach B.J. Jackson, who had a starter and two key reserves on the bench with him.
"When you're short-handed, it's tough. We didn't have the bodies to throw in there when we got tired. We didn't have the legs like we usually have. The shots we usually hit, we didn't hit tonight."
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Keenan (20-8) had its season ended by Southside each of the past four seasons, three times in the Upper State final. But the Raiders went to a zone in the second half, adding to the struggles for the weary Tigers.
Southside scored the first basket of the second half and then went nearly six minutes without scoring. Keenan led 42-32 at the end of the quarter and had control of the game.
"We've been in the semifinals the last three years, and it feels good to get over that hump," Keenan coach Zach Norris said. "Southside has been a nemesis for us."
Southside will move up to Class 3A next year after four years in Class 2A that included four trips to the Upper State final, three state championship game appearances and two state titles.
"A lot of people didn't expect us to be here from Day One," Jackson said. "When the buzzer went off in that state championship game last year, everybody in the state of South Carolina in 2A was happy. But we didn't change what we needed to do to get here."