A.C. Flora’s state championship appearance streak came to an end Tuesday, but not without a fight.
The Falcons rallied from an 11-point second-half deficit, but No. 1 Wilson held on for a 65-62 victory in front of a sellout crowd in the third round of the Class 4A playoffs.
The Tigers move on to their first lower state final since 2007 and will take on Lower Richland at the Florence Civic Center on Friday at 8:30 p.m.
A.C. Flora’s season ends at 16-12. The Falcons advanced to the state title game the past three years, winning two of them.
“Wilson played a tremendous game. They outrebounded and hit a few bigger shots than us,” A.C. Flora coach Joshua Staley said. “We have been fortunate at the end of the season to play in that final game. I always told them to not to take that for granted. With that being said, we played like champions tonight. We had some easy opportunities to quit and roll over, but we fought back and had our chances.”
The final chance came on the last possession, but James Reese’s 3-pointer hit the back of the rim as time expired.
Christian Brown led A.C. Flora with 21 points, and his 3-pointer cut Wilson’s lead to 64-62 with 8.2 seconds left. Reese added 18 in his final high school game. The two combined for all of Flora’s points in the fourth quarter.
Jaylen Quick led Wilson (20-0) with 14 points and took the brunt of abuse from the A.C. Flora student section for much of the night. Former Richland Northeast guard Alex Caldwell and Blake Walker each added 12 for the Tigers, who led 43-32 three minutes into the third quarter.
But the Falcons answered with a 17-3 run, and Brown’s 3-pointer put them up 49-46 with 1:21 left in the third.
A.C. Flora led 59-58 with 1:53 left after Brown’s basket. But Walker drilled a 3-pointer and then hit two free throws after a Falcons turnover to give the Tigers a 63-59 lead with 32 seconds left.
“It was one of those shots that went in for me, luckily, and helped the team out,” Walker said of the 3-pointer. “We prepared for moments like this. In practice, we prepared for different situations, and it prepared us for this moment.”
W: Jaylen Quick 14, Blake Walker 12, Alex Caldwell 12, Williamson 4, Burch 2, Jamal Bryant 11. ACF: Christian Brown 21, James Reese 18, D. Brown 3, Hollingsworth 8, Foulks 5, D. Thomas 3, Jamison 4.