The ultimate showdown between Dutch Fork and Spring Valley is less than two weeks away. If, that is, the No. 1 Silver Foxes or the No. 2 Vikings avoid a stumble along the Class 4A girls basketball path leading to next Friday’s Upper State championship game at the Bi-Lo Center in Greenville.
The teams split two games during the Region 4 campaign, ended up sharing the conference title. Dutch Fork had the tiebreaker edge and bagged the No. 1 playoff seed, relegating the Vikings to the possibility of having to play some road games in the postseason for the first time since Asia Dozier and Xylina McDaniel arrived as freshman four years ago and helped transformed the program into a powerhouse.
Dutch Fork (22-3) opens at home on Tuesday against Lancaster. The Silver Foxes are a team on a mission, especially after their 51-41 win over Spring Valley on Jan. 31. DF is looking to get past the semifinals blues. The Foxes lost to eventual state champion Goose Creek in the Lower State championship game in 2010, and fell to eventual champion Spring Valley in the Upper State final last season.
Deanna Shuler (19.0 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 2.0 apg, 3.8 spg) and Alaina Coates (18.6 ppg, 10.6 rpg, 2.0 spg) are the top guns.
Spring Valley (20-4) takes on Spartanburg in the first round, and will need to have a little help to avoid having Tuesday’s opener be the final home game of the season.
Dozier (18.2 ppg, 4.4 apg, 4.0 spg), McDaniel (16.8 ppg, 9.7 rpg, 2.4 apg, 2.9 spg) and fellow senior Shaquita Walker (8.8 ppg, 4.7 apg, 4.6 spg) hope to retire with three state championships in four appearances in the finals on the books.
Blythewood, Ridge View and Irmo are the other Region 4 qualifiers and all three will hit the road to face Lower State region champions.
Blythewood beat Ridge View in the regular season final to tie the Blazers for third place in the finals standings and earn the No. 3 seed. Irmo is the No. 5 seed. Blythewood (16-8) faces Region 5 champion Orangeburg-Wilkinson, Ridge View (18-6) takes on Region 6 champ Sumter and Irmo (13-11) is at Region 7 winner Goose Creek.
Nakia Squire (16.1 ppg, 2.8 apg, 4.1 spg), Alexus Jackson (16.4 ppg, 10.3 rpg) and Jontay Mitchum (9.0 ppg, 6.0p rpg, 3.0 apg, 2.6 spg) set the pace for Ridge View.
Ke’Asia Jackson (10.0 ppg, 2.1 spg) and Brittany Gooden (8.4 ppg, 7.2 rpg) are Irmo’s leaders.
Lexington (14-10) returns to postseason action for the first time in four years. The Wildcats, the No. 2 seed in Region 5, takes on Ashley Ridge at home.