Lou Bezjak

Bests from the Weekend of Champions

A.C. Flora High School players celebrate following their win over Midland Valley High School in the 3A Boys State Championship game at Colonial Life Arena.
A.C. Flora High School players celebrate following their win over Midland Valley High School in the 3A Boys State Championship game at Colonial Life Arena. jblake@thestate.com

A.C. Flora’s championship Saturday closed the books in the high school basketball season in South Carolina.

There will be all-star games over the next two weekends to cap off a great season for Midlands teams. Five Midlands teams played for state titles this past weekend, and three won (Spring Valley girls, Dreher girls and Flora boys). The Richard Winn girls won their fourth straight SCISA Class A title the week before.

Flora and Dreher’s state titles continued an impressive stretch during which a Richland One school has won at least one basketball championship every season since 2006.

Here is a look back at other exciting moments from the Weekend of Champions at Colonial Life Arena:

Best team performance

There were a lot of good choices, but I have to go with A.C. Flora boys. The Falcons shot 54 percent and fended off every late run Midland Valley had to win their second Class 3A title in three years.

Best individual performance

Abbeville’s Joseph Battle (boys) and Spring Valley’s Christian Hithe (girls).

Battle, the Class 2A Player of the Year, scored 32 points, including four in the final 90 seconds, to give the Panthers their first state title.

Hithe, a two-time all-state pick, finished her Spring Valley career with 26 points and six steals as the Vikings repeated as 4A state champs.

Best clutch moment

Dreher’s Kamryn Lemon had a steal and a layup with 1:16 remaining to give the Blue Devils a 43-41 lead over Myrtle Beach in the Class 3A girls championship. Lemon also had an assist to Carla Brown on the next possession to seal the win.

Best dunk

There weren’t many to chose from, but A.C. Flora’s Diamante Brown had a slam from the baseline in the first quarter against Midland Valley that definitely was the tops for the weekend.

Funniest moment (Part 1)

The Timberland boys bringing their white home uniforms instead of their road uniforms. The Wolves ended up having to buy black mesh practice jerseys to wear in the 2A game against Abbeville.

Funniest moment (Part 2)

She probably didn’t think it was funny at the time, but Dreher coach Teresa Jones broke her clipboard while yelling at her team during a timeout in the fourth quarter of the Blue Devils’ win over Myrtle Beach.

Best celebration

A.C. Flora boys. The Falcons’ dogpile following the win against Midland Valley began near the center of the court and ended just before the front of press row.

Midlands teams to watch in 2016-17

Some programs to watch next season (in alphabetical order):

Boys

A.C. Flora: The Falcons lose seniors Kendale Hampton and Brandon Davis, but return a wealth of talent. Freshman Christian Brown showed he’s going to be a name to be talked about for the next three years.

Blythewood: The Bengals won the school’s first region title this year and graduate just three seniors.

Cardinal Newman: Cardinals were one of three teams to beat Hammond this year and return several players, including Christiaan Jones.

Dutch Fork: Class 4A Player of Year Jordan Davis will look to build on this year’s breakout season.

Gray Collegiate: Gray will mark its first full season as South Carolina High School League members next year. The Eagles lose a lot, but have strong nucleus to build around in Juwan Gary and Khalil Robinson.

Irmo: The Yellow Jackets must replace six seniors, including guard Dre’Von Sweat and Ta’Vonne Bond, but can build around center R.J. Gunn, Noah Jenkins and others.

Keenan: The Raiders fell short of defending their state titles by losing in the Upper State championship game, but will have several players back, including all-state selection Tariq Simmons.

Lexington: The Wildcats’ leading scorer Darius Bryant is back.

Lower Richland: The Diamond Hornets return three starters in Ja’Cor Nelson, Clyde Trapp and Carlos Nuttry.

Girls

Dreher: The Blue Devils lose one of their big three in Jhileiya Dunlap, but have Kamryn Lemon and Jaelynn Murray returning.

Hammond: The Skyhawks lose just two seniors.

Keenan: The Raiders lose seniors Breia Jackson, Le’on Hill and Dashielle Robinson, but have talented younger players back, led by Logan McDaniel.

Spring Valley: The Vikings lose Hithe, Shantay Taylor and Dominique Hill, but never count out an Anne Long-coached team. Freshman Taylor Lewis will be a player to watch.

Westwood: The Redhawks made the playoffs for first time in school history and return a strong nucleus.

Richard Winn: The Eagles lose just two players and are coming off their fourth straight SCISA Class A title.

Ridge View: The Blazers handed Spring Valley one of their two losses and came within a last-second shot from advancing to the Upper State final.

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