The South Carolina High School League basketball championships were held this weekend, and here are 10 things that stood out from championship weekend:
It was a weekend for the Midlands teams, who went 5-1 in title games with Keenan, Spring Valley and Newberry girls and Gray Collegiate and Ridge View boys claiming championships.
The five SCHSL championships in one season ties for the most for Midlands teams in one year. The only other time it happened was in 1994 when Eau Claire and Irmo boys and Columbia, Dreher and Lower Richland girls won championships that year.
Not done yet
Of the five Midlands team to win state titles, three of them should be favorites to do it again next year.
Ridge View is losing just one senior and will return all five starters, while Spring Valley and Gray Collegiate are losing just one starter each.
The best moment of the weekend came shortly before tip-off of the Class 3A girls’ championship between Newberry and Ridgeland-Hardeeville.
Injured Newberry guard Rayanna Davis surprised her teammates by showing up for the championship. Davis had been in the hospital with injuries suffered from a car accident. She had a fractured rib, collapsed lung and tubes in her chest.
Davis watched the game from the bench and got up a few times because she wasn’t allowed to do anything that will stress her body. But she was celebrating with her teammates as the final buzzer sounded in the 57-50 win.
Ridge View-Wilson instant classic
The Class 4A Boys championship between Wilson and Ridge View was the last game of the weekend and also the best one.
Both fan bases packed the Colonial Life Arena, and the energy and excitement lived up to the billing.
Ridge View defeated Wilson, 74-70, for the first title in state history. The Blazers trailed by as many as 10 points before leading by 11 and holding on for the win. The game featured nine lead changes and three ties and went down to the final possession.
RV’s Malcolm Wilson blocked Frederick Mullins’ three-point attempt to preserve the win.
Do it again
Of the 10 teams to win championships this weekend, four repeated as champions – North Augusta girls and Dorman, Hemingway and Southside boys.
North Augusta’s two- year title run is one of the most impressive runs in a while. The Yellow Jackets went 54-1 over the past two seasons, the lone loss coming this year against Winter Haven (Fla.) at the She Got Game tournament in Washington, D.C.
Feels like the first time
While four teams repeated as champions, Gray Collegiate, Newberry and East Clarendon won their first championships.
GCA’s title comes in its second season of being full-fledged members in the SCHSL. The War Eagles’ title came less than a week after JV player Tiquan Taylor was killed.
Newberry’s title came after years coming up short. The Bulldogs lost three consecutive upper state championship games from 2014-16. Newberry played for a title in 2017 but lost at the buzzer to Bishop England.
Cooper doesn’t disappoint in finals debut
East Clarendon’s Talaysia Cooper lived up to the billing in her first state title game.
Only two of the 10 championship games were decided by 10 points or less – Ridge View and Wilson (74-70) and Newberry-Ridgeland Hardeeville (57-50).
The average margin of victory of the other games was 16.1 points.
Upper state teams won seven of the 10 championship games over the weekend.
Here are some of the top individual efforts from the weekend:
▪ Talaysia Cooper, East Clarendon: Eighth-grader with 18 points, five rebounds, four steals and three assists
▪ Kelsey Felks, Newberry: All-state selection had 13 points and 23 rebounds
▪ Taylor Lewis, Spring Valley: Junior had 18 points seven rebounds, two blocks and two steals
▪ Logan Taylor-McDaniel, Keenan: Senior had 12 points, nine rebounds, six blocks and five assists
▪ Amari Young, North Augusta: Class 4A Player of Year had 13 points, 17 rebounds and four blocks
▪ Tommy Bruner, Gray Collegiate: Junior capped off a big postseason and led War Eagles with 20 points
▪ Jamal Burke, Southside: Senior scored 15 points, grabbed 21 rebounds and had four blocks
▪ Alex Caldwell, Wilson: Columbia native led all scorers with 30 points and nearly led Tigers back in a come-from-behind victory
▪ Walyn Napper, Crosby Harris-James and Malcolm Wilson, Ridge View: Three players had big hand in Blazers’ title win. Harris-James scored 20 points, had five rebounds and three assists. Napper had 17 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. Wilson had 15 points, 15 rebounds and seven blocks, including a game-saving one in the final seconds
▪ Myles Tate, Dorman: Sophomore had 20 points, two assists and three steals and should be one to keep an eye on in recruiting the next couple years.