Eau Claire’s girls and the Keenan boys are set for Saturday’s Class 2A Lower State championship games at the Bi-Lo Center in Greenville.
The opponent in both games is Southside, but the two-time defending state champion Tigers boys team may have a vastly different look when it takes the court tomorrow. Southside beat Abbeville in third-round play on Wednesday, but an on-court fight involving players and fans from both teams after time expired might result in some sort of punishment for Southside. Abbeville suspended eight players from school for five days, The Greenwood Index Journal reported on Thursday. There were no published reports on any action taken at Southside as of Friday morning. The High School League is investigating the incident, but will have no official response until meeting with representatives from both schools on Friday afternoon.
The EC girls play at 2:30 p.m., the Keenan boys at 4:30 p.m.
Eau Claire takes on a Southside team (24-4) that made it to the fourth round of the playoffs for the first time thanks to a nail-biting 67-66 win over Keenan on Tuesday. The Shamrocks, meanwhile, earned a return to the state semifinals for the first time since 1999 with an easy 82-44 third-round win over Broome, setting a new school single-game playoff scoring record in the process.
Junior guard Amelia Carrie and senior center Janae’ Stevenson are the Shamrocks leaders. Carries leads the team with an 18.2 scoring average and shares the team lead in assists with Shakenia Johnson at 2.4 per game. Stevenson averages 13.3 points, and 8.1 rebounds a game. Eboni Ross, Stevenson’s low post partner, is averaging 8.9 points and 6.3 rebounds.
Southside boasts balanced production from Chelsea Walker (12.9 ppg, 7.5 rpg), Jasmine Franklin (12.4 ppg, 8.3 rpg), Nikki Young (12.5 ppg, 2.8 apg, 3.9 spg), McKenzie Weston (11.5 ppg, 4.8 apg, 3.2 spg) and Yoko Mosley (9.6 ppg).
Keenan needs no introduction to Southside. The Tigers, after all, have eliminated the Raiders from the playoffs for three straight years – in the third round in 2007 and in the US finale in 2008 and 2009.
Ironically, Keenan has never made it to a state championship game since debuting in Class 2A in 2005. The Raiders last trip to the finals was in 2001 when they bagged the 3A championship with a 69-38 win over Union. Keenan’s third-round romp over Newberry (63-34) was the program’s 54th playoff win since 1970-71, good for a third-place tie with Hemingway on the all-time modern era list.
Keenan’s season leaders include Bradley Smith (16.5 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 2.3 spg, 1.5 bspg), Dennis Rowe (13.3 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 2.1 spg, 1.3 apg), Kenny Reed (10.5 ppg, 3.7 rpg), Eric Washington (9.5 ppg, 5.3 apg, 2.5 spg), Quinton Johnson (9.1 ppg, 4.8rpg, 1.4 bspg).
Southside has won 13 straight playoff games and is 20-1 in postseason matters since 2006.