At the start of the season, Lower Richland girls basketball coach Keturah Jackson had to beg junior guard Seanavier Washington to come out for the team.
After much coaxing, she decided to play, and it turned out well for both parties. Washington’s running layup with three seconds remaining in overtime propelled the Diamonds to a 35-34 victory over Myrtle Beach on Monday night in the Class 4A playoffs.
“I had the ball and thought I was going to be able to pass it, but nobody was open, so I figured I would drive and just hope it would go in,” Washington said. “I thought it was going to bounce out. I was scared.”
Lower Richland (17-8) will play in the Lower State championship at 7 p.m. Friday against Wilson at the Florence Civic Center. Myrtle Beach finishes 21-3, and lost for the first time to a team from South Carolina.
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“These kids have had my back all season, so I’m proud of their effort,” Jackson said. “It feels great to still be playing.”
The winning basket was set up when Myrtle Beach missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 18 seconds remaining. The Diamonds rebounded and had to go into their offense since they were out of time outs. After a couple of passes, Washington got the ball well outside the 3-point line, went to the baseline and flipped up the game-winner.
“It wasn’t about execution. It was just taking the ball to the rack,” Jackson said. “That’s what they did. It wasn’t anything on my part. These kids stepped up when the game and season was on the line.”
It was a defensive game from the outset. Lower Richland led the majority of the game and held a 29-25 advantage entering the final quarter, but was held to one point in the final eight minutes.
Ivy Collins, who had 16 points, tied it at 30 with 4:45 remaining on a three-point play. The game was delayed for 20 minutes on that play when LR’s Jordan Canty slammed her head on the floor when trying to draw the charge.
The teams traded turnovers before Myrtle Beach missed two shots in the paint in the final 4.4 seconds.
“We just need to learn to finish when we have easy baskets,” Myrtle Beach coach Jennifer Dennison said. “Then, free throws were a big difference. If you’re going to beat a good team, you have to make your free throws.”
Keondra Archie scored 18 points playing on an injured ankle for Lower Richland.
“This is her second straight game playing on a bum ankle,” Jackson said. “She’s just toughing it out.”
MB: Ivy Collins 16, Bell 7, Adderton 6, Sumpter 3, Kelly 2. LR: Keondra Archie 18, Hicklin 7, Smith 3, Washington 2, Canty 2, Palmer-Brown 2, Adams 1.