Brookland-Cayce seniors Lloyd Hemming and Marquis McCoy knew they didn’t want their Senior Night to end in disappointment.
Both made huge plays down the stretch to give the Bearcats a nail-biting 51-49 victory over Swansea on Tuesday night in a Region 5-3A contest. Hemming’s two free throws with 10.4 seconds remaining proved to be the difference.
It’s the 11th consecutive win for Brookland-Cayce, and the Bearcats will travel to Strom Thurmond on Thursday in the regular-season finale with a chance to lock down the program’s first region title since 2006. A B-C loss will force a one-game playoff with the Rebels on Friday.
“In practice, coach always tells us that the seniors need to lead the team,” Hemming said. “We felt confident going down the stretch that someone was going to make a play. I wasn’t too worried about the free throws. I felt like I was going to make them.”
“It feels great to know we have a chance to play for a region title. That hasn’t happened in a while around here.”
The Bearcats (14-8, 9-0) had a 42-34 lead – their largest of the game – entering the fourth quarter, but the Tigers wouldn’t go away.
Swansea (9-13, 2-7) opened the quarter with a 9-1 spurt to tie the game at 43 with 5:33 remaining. Effix Miller and CJ Jackson scored all nine of the Tigers’ points during the run.
Hemming then was fouled on a 3-point attempt and made all three free throws. Jackson followed with two free throw for Swansea before McCoy hit the biggest shot of the night. He drilled a 3-pointer from the wing to make it 49-45 with 2:37 remaining.
Miller tied it at 49 with a jumper with 53 seconds remaining. The Bearcats worked the ball for the last shot and Hemming was fouled on a drive to the basket, leading to the deciding points.
“We didn’t play like we have in the first eight region games,” B-C coach Robert Wells said. “Hemming and McCoy made some big shots down the stretch. That’s one of the benefits of having seniors that are capable of playing on the next level.”
After a timeout, Swansea turned the ball over. Hemming missed the front end of an one-and-one with 4 seconds remaining, but the Tigers turned it over out of bounds with less than a second on the clock.
“We’re young with only senior and those B-C guys have been there before,” Swansea coach Willie Thomas said. “They’re athletic and made plays when they had too. I was proud of the effort but we’re inexperienced and I think that showed.”
Hemming finished with 15 points and McCoy added 10 for Brookland-Cayce. Mike Williams hit four of the Bearcats eight three-pointers to finish with 12 points.
S: Effix Miller 16, CJ Jackson 15, Coates 9, Williams 6, Hardy 3. BC: Lloyd Hemming 15, Mike Williams 12, Marquis McCoy 10, Taylor 6, Lykes 3, Moore 3, Brown 2.
Danae McNeal scored 21 points to keep the top-ranked team in Class 3A unbeaten with one regular-season game remaining.
Swansea (19-0, 9-0) never trailed after the first quarter and McNeal’s eight points in the fourth quarter didn’t allow the Bearcats a chance to make a comeback.
Lauryn Robinson added 10 points for the Tigers.
Mya Benn had 10 points for Brookland-Cayce (12-8, 6-3).
S: Danae McNeal 21, Lauryn Robinson 10, Gillings 8, James 7, Davis 2. BC: Mya Benn 10, Wilson 6, Pettus 6, Anderson 5, Walker 4, Preston 2, Perry 2.