Lower Richland and Dreher met twice during the regular season, but more was a stake Tuesday as the rivals faced each other in the Class 4A playoffs with a spot in Friday’s Lower State championship game on the line.
The Diamonds got 12 points from Tevaughn Higgins and 10 points from Clyde Trapp for a 41-36 victory over the Blue Devils.
“We knew we wanted to make a run in the playoffs,” Lower Richland coach Caleb Gaither said. “We accomplished some of our goals during the regular season and being in the Lower State finals was another. But at the end of the day, we’re still not satisfied.”
Lower Richland (19-4) will face top-ranked and undefeated Wilson at 8:30 p.m. at the Florence Civic Center. The Diamonds are in the semifinals for the second time in the past three years.
Higgins and Trapp got the Diamonds to the fourth quarter with a 26-23 lead, but it was the play of Savion Townsend and Daniel Tisdale that clinched the win.
T.J. Brown scored on a layup before Higgins hit a 3-pointer. Simon Grant answered on the other end for the Blue Devils to make it 29-27. That’s when Townsend and Tisdale took over.
The senior guards combined to score the next seven points for the Diamonds as they pushed the lead to 36-30 with 1:26 remaining.
“Townsend was able to drive and get some looks or get it to the open person,” Gaither said. “Tisdale made all the hustle plays. Those kinds of plays kind of put us over the edge. Those two guys were big for us, especially in the final quarter.”
Dreher (14-8) slowed the game down to keep it close. Lower Richland won the two regular season games by 6 and 20 points. Dreher coach Steve Moore opened the game in a 1-3 zone with a “chaser” following Trapp.
It worked as the Lower Richland guards were settling for jump shots instead of attacking from the wings. But the Blue Devils couldn’t take advantage as they missed several shots in the paint.
“I just told the kids that it was one of those nights where the shots weren’t going down,” Moore said. “I thought we had some really good looks but they just didn’t go in. Defensively, we did exactly what we wanted to.”
Dreher’s Dreshaun Jones led all scorers with 18 points.
D: Dreshaun Jones 18, T.J. Brown 10, Grant 5, A.J. Myers 3. LR: Tevaughn Higgins 12, Clyde trap 10, Tisdale 8, Townsend 6, Nelson 5.