Dutch Fork’s youthful girls basketball team closed the regular season on Monday with an axis altering 41-36 Region 5-4A win over archrival Irmo.
The win allowed the Silver Foxes to claim a share of the region championship with Irmo and North Augusta. More importantly, DF bagged the region’s No. 1 seed in the Class 4A state playoffs that begin tonight. Faye Norris’ team, which finished the regular season with an 11-3 region grade and an 18-5 overall record, hosts Fort Dorchester tonight in first-round play.
Donnesha Shuler rang up 17 points on 6-for-10 shooting from the field to lead the way in the defensive struggle vs. Irmo. Selby Curtis contributed 10 points to the cause, and 6-foot-4 freshman center Alaina Coates chipped in eight points (4-for-5 from the field) and seven rebounds.
The Silver Foxes turned their season around after losing three straight region games in a six-day span in January. DF enters the playoffs riding a six-game winning streak, closing out the conference campaign by avenging a 54-44 loss to the neighboring Yellow Jackets on Jan. 22.
Irmo not only saw its shot at winning the region champion outright miss the mark, the Yellow Jackets (17-7) enter the playoffs as a No. 3 playoff seed. As a result, Irmo faces a long road trip tonight to Walterboro for a first-round contest against Colleton County.
But while the region’s tie-breaking system did not work in Irmo’s favor, the procedure doomed Lexington. The Wildcats, who stormed into playoff contention with a late-season run, including wins over Irmo and North Augusta, beat White Knoll 49-28 on Monday to finish in a three-way tie with Orangeburg-Wilkinson and Aiken for fourth place in the final region standings. Lexington, however, was the odd team outing in the tiebreaker because it went 0-2 vs. O-W.
Laura Beth Neal had 13 points for the Wildcats in the season finale. Lexington finished with an improved 12-9 record this season.