SUMTER - Pinewood Prep extended its reign in SCISA Class 3A boys basketball Saturday at Sumter County Exhibition Center, defeating Heathwood Hall 58-40 for its fifth consecutive independent schools championship.
"Every team is different, but I'm real proud of this one because we started out with a lot of inexperience and just got better and better as the season went on," said Pinewood coach Pat Eidson, whose team finished with a 24-13 record.
In the process, Panthers senior forward Bruce Haynes, who led the Panthers with 22 points in the finale, concluded a rare hat trick - retiring with three state championships in three seasons with two different teams. He was a member of Summerville's Class 4A state title team in 2008, and picked up two at Pinewood.
"This one was special because it's my senior year and this team came such a long way since the start of the season, when we lost a lot of tournament games against public school teams," Haynes said.
"But we kept working and came here confident we could win another championship."
Heathwood Hall got off to a good start and had a 21-18 lead with 1:47 left in the first half. Pinewood, however, used late 3-pointers by Haynes and Jerome Deas to carry a 24-22 lead into the halftime break.
The Panthers established command in the third quarter with a 14-9 move, featuring three 3-pointers, two from Deas, who finished with 17 points. The key was an 8-0 burst in a 1:22 span that extended the Panthers lead to 35-26. Haynes hit a 3-pointer and added an acrobatic baseline drive. Deas closed the run with 3-pointer from the left wing.
At this point, Eidson order a change to a zone defense, and the Highlanders did not threaten again.
"We couldn't hit a thing when they went to the zone, and we just didn't play as well offensively as we did in the first two (tournament) games," Highlanders coach Jeff Whalen said.
The Highlanders (23-6) shot 13-for-42 from the field, a big drop off from their efficient performances in the quarterfinals and semifinals. Pinewood's ace in the hole was eight 3-pointers.
Corey Littlejohn was the only consistent Highlander, finishing with 17 points, five rebounds, two assists and three steals.
Littlejohn and Mac Whalen were named to the all-tournament team.
HH: Mac Whalen 6, English 6, Morgan Whalen 7, Corey Littlejohn 17, Hickman 4. PP: Anderson 2, Chase 9 Jerome Deas 17, Bruce Haynes 22, Williams 6, Felder 2.