Shaq Roland knew all the hoopla surrounding Lexington's second-round matchup in the Class 4A basketball playoffs against Berkeley.
It was supposed to allow the sophomore guard to test himself against Bruce Ellington, rated one of the country's top five point guards by several scouting services and a commitment to play next season at South Carolina.
Roland was even aware that USC coach Darrin Horn - along with a couple of assistants and players Ramon Galloway and Lakeem Jackson - was in the crowd.
All walked away impressed by Ellington. But it was Roland and fellow guards David Burns and Adrian Wigfall who stole the show and propelled the Wildcats to a 91-74 overtime victory Saturday night.
"That was all the motivation I needed," Roland said of his 34-point, 12 rebound, and five assists effort. "I wanted to come out and play hard and shine."
Lexington (23-5) advances to play host to Sumter on Tuesday night. The Gamecocks eliminated North Augusta 82-72 in overtime.
Once the game reached overtime, it was a parade to the free throw line by Lexington that turned the nailbiter into a blowout.
Berkeley coach Charlie Harrison was ejected with 2:51 remaining in the overtime for arguing foul calls. He picked up his first technical in the first half and was whistled for his second after a foul on Roland.
Roland, who made 15-of-16 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter and overtime, nailed five of six on the possession and Lexington scored the first 15 points of overtime with nine of the points coming from the free throw line.
The Wildcats were 20-of-26 from the foul line, including 18-for-22 in the fourth quarter and overtime. The Stags were 6-for-11.
"The free throws obviously were big," Harris said.
Harris said Roland was hobbled the past two days in practice after twisting his ankle late in the first round win on Wednesday.
"He raises his game to the level of the competition, that's for sure," Harris said. "He was very limited yesterday but he told me he was a hundred percent, so I trusted him."
It was the late heroics of the two stars that sent the game to overtime to begin with.
The Stags (14-11) trailed the majority of the second half after falling behind by eight at the half. But Ellington shot Berkeley back into it.
The 5-10 senior was held to eight points in the first half but he scored 23 in the second half - including a deep, straight-away 3-pointer with nine seconds remaining - to give the Stags a 72-70 advantage. Ellington finished with 33 points and was dazzling with his passing and ball-handling.
Lexington played a tight zone and had taken Ellington's ability to drive away from him. But he connected on five of his six 3-pointers in the second half.
"We put Shaq up top at times to put a little more size on Ellington," Harris said. "We knew we weren't going to shut him down. I thought we did a good job on everybody else though."
The Wildcats quickly pushed the ball into the frontcourt before calling timeout with 2.4 seconds remaining to set up an inbounds play underneath. They couldn't get the pass in on the first try and finally got it in to Roland just outside the lane. He drove toward the basket and was fouled with 0.9 seconds remaining.
"I guess that is the advantage of having a lot of timeouts at the end of the game," Harris said. "We were able to call two, and if you don't have those you have to take what you get. The bottom line was we weren't going to inbound until we got Shaq the ball on the block."
Roland, who came in shooting 60 percent from the line on the season, calmly sank both free throws to send the game to the extra session.
"I didn't even think about it," Roland said. "I was really in a zone and just stepped up and knocked them down."
Roland got plenty of help in the form of Burns and Wigfall on the offensive end. Burns scored 23 points with 14 coming in the first half. Wigfall added 18 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, and both had success driving against the Stags guards other than Ellington.
"When our guards control the ball and playing like they were, we can be pretty good," Harris said. "They made shots and both Burns and Wigfall were able to get to the basket when they had mismatches up top."
Berkeley got 12 points from R.J. Robinson and 11 each from D.J. Harrison and Marcus Wiggs but foul trouble and lack of depth did them in during the overtime period.
B: Bruce Ellington 33, R.J. Robinson 12, Marcus Wiggs 11, D.J. Harrison 11, Williams 7. L: Shaq Roland 34, David Burns 23, Adrian Wigfall 18, Matt Jergenson 8, Hendren 3, Lail 3, Adams 2.