Lower Richland was back in action for the first time in more than two weeks on Friday at Dreher in the Region 4-3A girls basketball opener.
But the protracted layoff did not have a negative effect on the Diamond Hornets, who improved to 11-0 with a 44-40 victory against the defending state champion Blue Devils. LR dominated the boards and used relentless defensive pressure to hound the hosts into a dismal shooting performance in the decisive second half.
In the process, Dreher’s 29-game instate winning streak came to an end.
“You never know how a team is going to react after being off for so long, but the girls worked hard in practice getting ready for the game and they played very well,” Lower Richland coach Debbie Stroman said. “We played with a lot of heart and we got a lot of contributions from a lot of players. Our rebounding and depth were big factors.”
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Dreher had a 29-28 halftime lead thanks to 9-for-17 shooting from the field, including five 3-pointers. But after the break, the Blue Devils went cold as ice — making one of their first 20 launches and finishing 3-for-26 over the final 16 minutes.
LR didn’t exactly shoot the light outs, finishing 15-for-64 (23.4 percent), but the Diamond Hornets created 22 more shots than the Blue Devils by forcing 23 turnovers and owning a 35-23 edge on the glass.
“We’re a little undersized in the post, but, hey, it’s a 50-50 ball coming off the rim,” Stroman said. “Whoever wants it the most is usually going to get it.”
The driving force inside was junior Breshay Johnson with 12 points and eight rebounds. Freshman Alaysia Washington came off the bench to chip in six points and grab a game-high 10 boards.
The Diamond Hornets were seemingly in good shape with a 41-34 lead with 5:23 remaining after a score by Washington off a deft feed from Ashley Irving, but Dreher cut the gap to 41-40 with 2:30 to go on a five-point burst in an 18-second span by Jazmine Robinson.
Johnson countered with a score off the offensive glass at 1:50 and the Blue Devils misfired on their final four shots.
“It was a rough night,” Dreher coach Teresa Jones said. “(Lower Richland) played with a lot of heart and a lot of desire. They wanted it a whole lot more than we did. We’ve lost four in a row and we’re 0-1 in the region. We’re got to regroup and get it together.”
Shaniqwa Hopkins and Kaydra Duckett led the Blue Devils (11-5) with 13 and 12 points, respectively. Hopkins had four 3-pointers in the first half, but did not score after the break. The senior point guard had more points individually at intermission than Dreher managed as a team in the second half
LR: Williford 6, Mitchell 2, Brown 3, King 3, Roach 5, Breshay Johnson 12, Richardson 5, Washington 6, Hicklin 2. D: M. Johnson 1, Robinson 7, Shaniqwa Hopkins 13, Dunlap 4, Kaydra Duckett 12, Starr 1, Pierce 2.