Sumter head girls basketball coach Chris Vandevander knew the Lady Gamecocks' first-round playoff opponent was no slouch.
Despite being a fourth seed, Ridge View brought an 18-6 overall mark and a No. 7 ranking among 4A teams in the state into Tuesday's matchup at the Sumter Gymnasium.
"We knew they were a fast team, we knew they were a big team – especially down low in the post," Vandevander said.
That size and speed – along with a tough pressure defense and subpar offensive night by Sumter – led to an early playoff exit for the No. 1-seeded Lady Gamecocks who fell 64-44.
"We base everything we do on defensive pressure and trying to wear a team down," Ridge View head coach Terrance Gibson said. "We came in here wanting to make every shot difficult for them. We knew they were a good team, but we wanted to make every shot hard."
The Lady Blazers' plan seemed to work to perfection as Sumter had just 17 points and 14 turnovers in the first half while Ridge View went into the break with a 27-17 advantage.
But Vandevander didn't see the pressure defense as being the cause for Sumter's offensive woes, and least not completely.
"I thought we handled the defense ok," she said. "But I thought we rushed our shots a little bit and we were more open than we thought we were."
Rushing shots might also have been a major factor in Danielle McFadden's off night. The Lady Gamecocks' leading scorer during the regular season finished with eight points. SHS had only one player post double figures as Kadijah Rembert put up a monster night of 20 points and 18 rebounds.
"I thought she really stepped up and played big tonight," Vandevander said. "We were struggling to find places where scoring was going to come from and she helped keep us in the game until the end."
Shaniqua McKnight also had eight points for Sumter, who held on till the final eight minutes. The Lady Gamecocks were trailing just 40-29 entering the fourth quarter, but a 10-0 run to start the frame all-but sealed the win for the Lady Blazers.
Ridge View was able to get plenty of scoring from throughout its lineup, and usually not from the same place twice. Nikia Squire led the team with 20 points, but 10 came in an explosive first quarter in which she drained two 3-pointers.
Alexus Jackson followed with 17 points – 12 of which came in the second half during big runs – and Jontay Mitcham scored 10 of her 12 points in the fourth quarter.
"It's a team game even though a lot of individuals get singled out," Gibson said. "We've had players throughout the year who had done things to get recognized, but in the locker room, we know we're a team and that's what it's all about."
Ridge View now travels to the Summerville-North Augusta winner while Sumter finishes the season at 18-4.