Lexington’s seven-year wait is over. The Wildcats finally put the finishing touches on the Region 5-4A champion Tuesday night at North Augusta, beating the scrappy Yellow Jackets 64-57. It was the first region title for the Wildcats since the 2000-01 season.
Bailey Harris' youthful team won its first 10 region games to build up a commanding lead with four games left to play. The Wildcats, however, dropped two games last week to give Irmo a glimmer of hope. Things are back in order again.
Lexington took over the lead for good on Tuesday with a 24-13 burst in the second quarter, but the host Yellow Jackets hung around and pulled within 60-57 with 1:45 to go in the fourth quarter before the Wildcats put it away at the free-throw line.
Senior Tradd Hunter led the Wildcats with 17 points, and freshman Shaq Roland scored 15.
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Lexington (20-4, 11-2) closes out the regular season Friday at home against nerighboring White Knoll.
Elsewhere, Richland Northeast caught Irmo in second place by downing the Yellow Jackets 51-47 Tuesday at home. Larry Sumter’s 17 points led the Cavaliers (16-8, 7-5). Jeremy Clinkscales scored 11 points for Irmo (18-5, 8-5).
RNE travels to face last-place Orangeburg-Wilkinson on Friday, while Irmo hosts Dutch Fork.
Lexington, RNE and Irmo have secured three of the region’s five state playoff invitations. North Augusta and O-W are out of the running. White Knoll (5-6), Aiken (5-6) and Dutch Fork (4-8) are the three contenders for the two remaining state berths.
White Knoll (15-9) moved closer to a state spot with a 61-42 romp as O-W as Jamar Jackson rang up 21 points. Dutch Fork (9-11) kept its hopes alive by handing Aiken a 71-57 loss on Tuesday behind E.J. Mills (17 points) and Dontae Shuler (16).