SOUTH AIKEN 48, GROVETOWN 46
GROVETOWN — It wasn't pretty, but South Aiken was able to escape Grovetown with its first win of the year.
Jordan Dingle had 15 points to lead the Thoroughbreds (1-1) over the host Warriors (0-1) in the Warriors Thanksgiving Classic.
“We had a tough shooting night, a couple of our guys struggled,” South Aiken head coach Drew Jernigan said. “Jordan Dingle struggled, but he still put up double figures, so you've got to give him credit. He didn't have a great game, but he did enough to help us win. It's all about being on the road … and finding a way to muster through.”
The T-Breds jumped out to a five-point lead in the first quarter, but in what would become a theme throughout the game, the Warriors clawed their way back. In the second, they got as close as one before Taijha Turner hit a thunderous dunk that brought the gym to its feet and sent the visitors into the half with a little more breathing room.
“We played good in spurts and really poorly in spurts,” Jernigan said. “We just weren't able to push their game out. You've got to give Grovetown a lot of credit. They answered the runs really well, they never got down and they played hard.”
Khallid Wright, who scored 14 points in the loss, led the Warriors and seemingly hit big shot after big shot to answer the T-Breds. Solomon Gause also had 12 points for the home team.
The second half saw the Warriors draw even at 32 all. They eventually took the lead, 46-40, in the fourth with 1:17 to go.
That's when Dingle and Latrell Brown took over.
Dingle hit a layup and drew the foul, making his free throw to complete a three-point play and even the score.
Following a steal on the inbound pass, Brown was fouled and sent to the line where he made one-of-two. On the opposite side, Ray Abraham was fouled and missed both free throws for the Warriors. Brown snapped up the rebound and hit another free throw. In the closing moments, the T-Breds didn't allow the Warriors to get off a clean shot.
“Latrell is a great guy and everyone really loves him. He has a great attitude and works hard. The beauty of that (final free throw) is that by statistics and what we see in practice he isn't a great foul shooter. But he did enough to get us over the hump and he really came up big when we needed him.”
It was a victory that didn't come easy, and wasn't the prettiest, but is important for a South Aiken squad that's looking to improve this season.
“They probably thought they had us licked there with about a minute to go, our big guy (Austin Kyles) fouled out and we had to go small,” Jernigan said. “I give Rock Kirkland a lot of credit for coming off the bench and giving us a spark. Our defensive intensity picked up and we were able to turn them over and get some good looks. … We did enough to win the game and I think it's a good thing when you can come into someone else's gym, not have everything go your way and have enough fortitude to tough it out and win the game.”
Scott Rodgers is a graduate of Alvernia University and a staff writer at the Aiken Standard.
SAHS 11 11 10 16 – 48
GHS 6 13 13 14 – 46
SAHS (1-1) Jordan Dingle 7 1-3 15, Justin Day 1 0-0 2, Taijha Turner 4 1-2 10, Jordan Scott 2 3-4 9, Austin Kyles 2 2-5 6, Latrell Brown 2 2-4 6.
3 pointers – Taijha Turner.
GHS (0-1) Khallid Wright 6 2-3 14, Solomon Gause 2 3-3, 12, Brandon Scott 0 1-2 1, Lane Hodge 1 0-0 3, Logan Morris 2 1-1 8, Ray Abraham 0 0-2 0, Kimani Meekins 1 0-0 2, Demetrius Middleton 2 2-2 6.
3 pointers – Solomon Gause, Logan Morris, Lane Hodge.