The South Carolina state basketball playoffs continue on Tuesday with a heavy slate of first-round games in all four classifications.
The drive for state championships begin in Class 4A girls, Class 3A boys, Class 2A girls and Class 1A boys.
Here’s a look at the local match-ups:
Class 4A girls
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Spring Valley (19-4) despite taking a heavy graduation hit, Anne Long’s Vikings have kept the beat going in 2012-13. SV went 10-0 on the way to the Region 4 championship – the fifth straight conference title for the program. Junior Cierra Carter (20.1 ppg, 8.5 rpg) has emerged as the star of the new-look team. The Vikings open the 4A sweepstakes with a home game against former region rival Rock Hill.
Ridge View (15-9) hosts Lancaster in the first round. The Blazers advanced to the third round a year ago before being eliminated by Goose Creek. Seniors Alexus Jackson (14.8 ppg, 9.6 rpg) and Briana Johnson (11.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 2.7 apg) and junior Jontay Mithcem (13.5 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 4.2 apg, 3.4 spg) are the Blazer leaders.
Lexington (14-9) heads to Sumter to face the Region 6 champion Gamecocks (16-5). The Wildcats, under first-year coach Melissa Dowdy, have had early playoff success in recent times – going 9-3 in first-round matters since 1998. But during the span, Lexington has survived second-round testing only two times in 1998 and 2000.
Blythewood (16-8) is off to face Aiken (16-7). A three-game losing streak dropped the Bengals for Region championship contention, but Blythewood does enter the playoffs riding a three-game winning streak, including a regular-season ending win over second-place Ridge View. Kierra Brown (12.5 ppg, 3.0 apg, 2.2 spg), Aaliyah Keels (11.3 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 2.3 apg, 2.5 spg) and Breelyn Blanding (10.3 ppg) are the Blythewood headliners.
Class 3A boys
A.C. Flora (16-7) hosts Travelers Rest, the No. 3 seed from Region 2, a balanced team that boasts four players who sport double-digit scoring averages. The Falcons turned things around in the second half of the Region 3 campaign after dropped the last two games of the first half. ACF went 5-0 in the second go-round and ended up as region co-champions with Lower Richland, though the Diamond Hornets got the No. 1 playoff seed. Senior Matthew Howard and sophomore ion Davis are the Falcon go-to players. Flora broke a string of 14 straight first-round playoff losses with a win over Crestwood last season. The Falcons goal this time around is to advance past the second round for the first time since 1988.
Chapin (14-7) opens in Greenville against Southside. The Eagles delivered down the stretch to make the state playoff cut as the No. 3 entry from Region 4. Seniors Tony Dargan and Jake Lass and junior sharpshooter Tanner Springston are the Chapin leaders. Southside went 12-2 and finished in second place behind Eastside in Region 2.
Keenan (16-6) hits the road to take on Region 2 champion, second-ranked Eastside (21-3) and region player of the year Davaris McGowens. The Blue Devils opened the season with a 12-0 run in December, but have been maddeningly inconsistent in region play. Sophomore Tevin Mack in the Dreher leader.
Airport (15-9) hits the road for North Charleston and a date with Stall hoping to avoid the same fate as their female counterparts. Stall’s girls upset the region champion Eagles on Monday. Basketball success has been fleeting for the program. In fact, Airport’s boys have made the playoff cut just seven times since 1970 and have only three postseason wins on the books – two coming in 2003. Senior Manny Poston (16.9 ppg, 5.5 apg) is the Eagle standout.
Brookland-Cayce (7-17) opens at Orangeburg-Wilkinson, which rolled to the Region 8 championship in its first season in 3A.
Class 2A girls
Keenan (14-7) enters the postseason on a roll. Since the holiday break, Keenan has gone 10-0 on the way to the Region 3 championship with the only loss in the new year coming against Laney GA. The Raiders advanced to the Upper State title game a year ago before losing to region and city rival Columbia. The goal this year is to get back to Colonial Life Arena for the third time since 2008. Keenan claimed the 2008 championship in 2008, and lost to Timberland in the 2011 finale. Senior Keira Robinson (21.2 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 4.8 apg, 6-6, spg) is the Raider leader, but the recent addition of senior Daisha Eddy makes Keenan even more of a title threat. Eddy was a star player for the Raiders as a freshman and a sophomore, averaging 19.7 ppg on the 2011 state runner-up club. She did not play last season, and just recently became eligible to return to the fold. Former region rival Central is the Raiders first-round foe.
Columbia (10-8) opens with a road game to face Andrew Jackson (17-4). The defending Upper State champion Capitals are led by junior Alexus Foulks (11.3 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.4 apg, 2.1 spg). The balanced Volunteers shared the Region 4 title with Cheraw, but dropped a tie-breaker game with the Braves.
Eau Claire (7-17) has a tough opener, hitting the road to face Region 4 co-champion and No. 1 seed Cheraw (20-5). Sophomore Deidra Davis-Johnson (14.2 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 2.8 spg) and senior Shabreccia Jones (13.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 7.8 apg, 4.5 spg) paced the youthful Shamrocks.
Class 1A boys
C.A. Johnson (6-13) finished in a three-way tie for third place in Region 3, but the Green Hornets had the tie-breaking edge to rate the No. 3 seed. CAJ travels to face former region rival Wagener-Salley (14-9), which finished second in Region 4. Junior Peter Goodman leads the junior-dominated Hornets with an 11.4 scoring average.