No. 1 Dreher headlines the Midlands contingent in the Class 3A state girls basketball playoffs that begin tonight.
The top-ranked Blue Devils, who stand at 20-1 and carry a 16-game winning streak into the postseason, open with a first-round game against Hartsville. In other area games, Lower Richland (17-4) draws Lakewood at home in the first round, while A.C. Flora (17-7) and Chapin (12-11) open on the road at Marlboro County and Crestwood, respectively.
Dreher is still a very young team with four sophomore starters, but it is an experienced one. Forward Kaydra Duckett, center Makayla Johnson, guard Jazmine Robinson and point guard Shaniqwa Hopkins comprise the youthful core of the team. Seniors Jade Nathaniel and Johneisha Myers have been solid contributors, as well.
The Blue Devils have a shot at revenge against Hartsville, which eliminated Teresa Jones’ club in the third round last year. It was the longest playoff stay for Dreher in six years, but the Devils won’t be satisfied with just two playoff wins this time around.
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No. 4 Lower Richland has had little trouble with any team other than Dreher this season. In fact, three of the Diamond Hornets’ four setbacks have come against the Blue Devils. LR lost in the second round last season, which was its quickest postseason exit since 2005. The Diamond Hornets are terrific defensively, but inconsistent on offense. Senior Justice Nathan, junior Jasmine Richardson and sophomore center Breshay Johnson and the LR leaders.
A.C. Flora hopes to avoid a first-round loss for the second year in a row. The last time it happened was in 2000-01. Junior Kyeshia Dawkins (11.9 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 3.0 apg, 2.8 spg), senior Simoy Evans (11.0 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 2.3 spg) and freshman Haniyyah Howard (9.2 ppg, 5.4 rpg) set the tone for the Falcons.
Chapin is back in the postseason after missing the cut in 2010 and 2011. Sophomore Shaleighya Sulton (12.5 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 3.9 spg), senior Savannah Frick (11.2 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 3.3 apg, 3.7 spg) and junior Rebekah Muir (8.1 ppg, 2.7 apg, 2.6 spg) helped the Eagles finish fourth in Region 5-3A and break out of the playoff slump.