Keenan gave Christ Church its toughest postseason challenge in the past three years, but the two-time defending state champs were up to the task.
The Cavaliers used their defense and an 11-2 run in a three-minute stretch in the fourth quarter to defeat the Raiders, 58-50 ,on Monday in the Class 2A Upper State semifinal.
Christ Church will play Andrew Jackson for the Upper State championship on Friday at 4 p.m. in Greenville. The Cavs have won two straight titles with the previous two coming in Class A.
“We made our goals at the beginning of the season and even though they won it the past two years, this is my first year,” said Christ Church coach Ja’Net Vicks, who took over for Toni Leopard. “So, we mapped out a plan, and they went out there and gave it their all. Even though it wasn’t very pretty, they left it all on the court.”
The Cavaliers (25-2) had won their first two playoff games by an average of 48 points, and their playoff games the past three years by nine points or more. Christ Church had Keenan on the ropes in the second and third quarters, and was up 41-31 with three minutes left in the third.
Led by Akqeishia Taylor and Logan McDaniel, the Raiders battled back with an 11-2 run capped by Taylor’s 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 43-42 with seven minutes left. Keenan had a couple chances to take the lead, but couldn’t convert before the Cavaliers put the game away.
Paula Pieper had five of her 13 points during that run, including a 3-pointer to make it 50-42.
“I told them it was going to be a game of runs,” Vicks said. “We may go up or may go down, but it is the one who hangs in there and endures throughout every single run that is going to come out on top.”
“I think late in the game, we turned the ball over too many times and couldn’t make some baskets,” Keenan coach Reggie McClain said. “But we are proud of them. Christ Church is a good team and we knew that they were a good team. I’m proud of the effort they gave us.”
Marissa Powe led Christ Church with 17 points, while Lawren Cook and Bailey Breazeale each had 14.
McDaniel led the Raiders with 21 points. Keenan finishes the season at 17-5 and was looking for its second consecutive state championship appearance.
CC: Paula Pieper 13, Marissa Powe 17, Lawren Cook 14, Bailey Breazeale. K: Isis Hill 10, Hammond 2, Hickman 4, Logan McDaniel 21, Sturrup 2, Taylor 9, Jones 2.