Lower Richland girls coach Debbie Stroman will relive the final seconds of the Diamonds’ second-round playoff game against Crestwood over and over in the coming months.
The coach will think of the missed opportunities and the mistakes her team made in the final 25 seconds that caused Lower Richland’s earliest playoff exit in seven years. Crestwood freshman Keanua Williams converted a three-point play with 5.5 seconds remaining to give the Knights a 50-48 victory in the Class 3A playoffs Thursday night at the Diamond Mine.
The Diamonds had erased all of a 13-point first-half deficit and took their third lead of the game on Jasmine Richardson’s offensive stick-back with 41 seconds remaining. After forcing a traveling violation on the next Crestwood possession, Stroman wishes she — and her team — would have handled things differently from that point.
Stroman requested a timeout as Lower Richland inbounded the ball but before she was granted the timeout, the Knights were whistled for their sixth foul of the half.
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Stroman opted not to call a timeout but said later she wished she had.
“ I kind of think I should have stayed with the timeout,” Stroman said. “There was so much chaos right there and I wasn’t getting what I needed from my folks as far as how many fouls they had and things like that. That timeout probably would have helped but we had just told them that if we still had the lead after their possession, not to shoot, that they had to foul us.”
The Diamonds (21-4) worked the clock but Justice Nathan launched an air ball from the corner with 11 seconds remaining.
“My mind went blank,” Stroman said about the shot. “I really thought, ‘why is she shooting it.’ As it went up in the air I looked up and there are 11 seconds on the clock. We are in a four-out and we have no rebounders in the middle. They just got it and took it straight down on us.”
Ranaja Murray rebounded the ball and threw it to a streaking Williams, who took it in to convert the three-point play.
Crestwood coach Tony Wilson was surprised when the Diamonds shot the ball.
“I was surprised they took the three,” Wilson said. “We told our girls to play tough man-to-man defense and try to force a turnover but when she put up that shot we got the rebound and got it to our freshman and she took it down and laid it in. That was just her instinct that took over at the time.”
Lower Richland raced the ball down and got it to Brishay Johnson underneath. She was fouled as the buzzer sounded. The freshman had two free throws to tie it but missed the first one to seal the outcome.
“You don’t know if you should encourage her or leave her alone,” Stroman said.
“I told her in the locker room that was a tough position to be in. At least we had a chance. They did exactly what we told them to do and got it down for a layup but, unfortunately, we missed it but we still had an opportunity. It just didn’t go down. That’s a tough way to go out.” Crestwood (22-5) was led by Daniquia Murray with 14 points and Demitria Kirkland with 12. The Knights will play the winner of Myrtle Beach and Darlington on Monday in third-round action.
Johnson and Staci Harris each had 10 points for Lower Richland.
C – Daniquia Murray 14, Demitria Kirkland 12, Murray 8, Skinner 8, Williams 8. LR - Brishay Johnson 10, Staci Harris 10, Nathan 7, Richardson 7, Montgomery 5, Dennis 5, Williams 4.