The Aiken High School boys’ basketball team didn’t have the touch Thursday night, losing to Spring Valley 75-62. Playing their home opener, the Hornets (1-1) suffered their first loss because of too many missed shots – from the field and the free-throw line. For the game, they made only 15 of 35 free throw attempts. That total allowed the Vikings (2-0) to maintain a double-digit lead throughout the fourth quarter, as the Hornets missed too many chances to pull closer from the charity stripe in spite of a good effort.

“It was pretty bad. We didn’t shoot (free throws) well tonight,” Aiken head coach Tony Harrell said. “But I didn’t see us give up, These guys showed fight, fight, fight.”

In addition to inconsistent shooting and in spite of some good looks off of solid ball movement and penetration, the Hornets also struggled controlling the ball. They committed a number of turnovers and allowed Spring Valley to set the pace. Leading the way for the Vikings was point guard Perry Dozier Jr. The 6-foot-5 point guard had a good night dealing with Aiken’s pressure and different looks and was able to set up his teammates in good positions to score.

“Their point guard played a tremendous game and controlled the tempo,” Harrell said of Dozier Jr., who had 13 points and 11 assists.

His father – Perry Dozier Sr. – Spring Valley’s head coach, had similar feelings about the way Dozier Jr. played.

“I don’t give my son a lot of compliments, but he was a floor general today,” Dozier Sr. said. “It wasn’t about scoring, it was about controlling the game and I thought he did a good job with that.”

Dozier Jr. was good at finding teammates in the paint or cutting to the basket. More often than not, when a Viking player got the ball inside, they were able to convert for a basket in spite of any pressure the Hornets applied.

“They were great around the basket,” Harrell said. “You can’t win games when you give up layups and we gave up too many tonight.”

The top recipient of the efforts of Dozier Jr. was Dominique Taylor. The senior forward led Spring Valley with 27 points, many of them coming after he cut through the lane before catching a pass and make a quick but effective move to the hoop for a basket.

The Vikings were at their best at the start of the second and third quarters. They took a four-point lead and turned it into a double-digit advantage little more than a minute into the second quarter.

Aiken rallied, using a 10-0 run near the end of the quarter to trim the deficit to eight points at the half. But Spring Valley was even better after intermission, stretching it’s lead to 20 points midway through the third quarter.

Like Harrell said, his Hornets continued to give great effort all game long. They extended to a full-court press and created more opportunities, just not enough shots fell to put a real scare in the Vikings.

“This is one of my favorite gyms to play in, but it’s always a dogfight here,” said Dozier, Sr., who added the officials seemed to be making calls in favor of the home team. “But it’s a good thing we had that lead because Aiken never quits.”

For the second time in as many games this season, Shawn Moore led the Hornets in scoring. He topped 30 points again with a game-high 31, although he also struggled finding consistency. Ryan McKie had a solid game with 15 points, and Deon Hicks added eight more for Aiken, which will return to action on Tuesday, when it plays host to Strom Thurmond.

“It’s a long season and it’s good to play a good team early in the year to let you know where you stand,” Harrell reasoned. “We’re going to look at the film and evaluate what we see and make corrections.”

SV 16 20 21 18 – 75

AIK 12 12 17 21 – 62

Spring Valley (2-0)—Kenneth Legette 2 1-3 6, Steven Thomas 1 0-0 2, John Miller 4 3-5 12, Dominique Taylor 8 10-12 27, Perry Dozier Jr. 3 7-8 13, Jamil Taborn 2 0-0 4, Jordan Bruner 1 0-0 2, Bernard Whitmore 1 0-0 2, Jabari Johnson 3 1-2 7. Totals: 25 22-30 75.

3-Pointers: Legette, Miller, Taylor.

Aiken (1-1)—Megal Hill 0 0-1 0, Shawn Moore 9 9-16 31, Jordan Habersham 0 0-2 0, Ryan McKie 5 5-12 15, Deon Hicks 3 0-0 8, John Besson 1 0-0 2, Stacy Toole 0 0-2 0, Justin Smith 2 0-0 5, Dominic Chaplin 0 1-2 1. Totals: 20 15-35 62.

3-Pointers: Moore (4), Hicks (2), Smith.

Spring Valley girls 42, Aiken 40

In a game it led much of the way, the Aiken girls’ surrendered the lead in the closing minutes and couldn’t hit a game-tying or go-ahead shot in the closing moments of a 42-40 loss to Spring Valley.

Alexis Odom led the Hornets (2-2) with 12 points and Erin Gilmore added eight.

“We missed some opportunities and left a lot of points on the court,” Aiken head coach Aubrey Pompey said. “They made some plays at the end. We were up, but couldn’t hold it, Their pressure got to us.”

Spring Valley’s Cierra Cater posted a game-best 15 in the win.

“I feel good we can compete, the girls played hard,” Pompey said following the loss to what has been one of the dominant programs in South Carolina the past few years. “We can build on it.”

SV 13 11 3 15 – 42

AIK 13 4 12 11 – 40

Spring Valley—Akia Dunlap 2 2-2 6, Latisha Smith 0 1-2 1, Cierra Carter 5 5-8 15, Megan Davis 3 1-5 8, Briana Hill 2 3-4 7, Raven Fleming 2 1-1 5. Totals: 14 13-22 42.

3-Pointers: Davis.

Aiken (2-2)—Erin Gilmore 4 0-1 8, Rebekah Muir 1 1-3 3, Jay Graham 1 0-0 3, Monique Tyler 2 0-4 4, Maggie Odom 2 0-0 4, Alexis Odom 6 0-0 12, Sophie Nance 3 0-2 6. Totals: 19 1-9 40.

3-Pointers: Graham.

Noah Feit is the sports editor for the Aiken Standard and has been a professional journalist for more than a dozen years after graduating from Syracuse University.