MIDLAND VALLEY 62, SILVER BLUFF 57
By JEREMY TIMMERMAN
GRANITEVILLE — Silver Bluff head boys’ basketball coach Robbie McKenzie has seen the story that played out Friday several times before.
“Another tough, heartbreaking loss early in the season,” he said of the 62-57 Mustang victory.
Midland Valley (4-2) had led for much of the game, albeit by the slimmest of margins at times, but Silver Bluff (0-2) managed to pull ahead 53-51 in the fourth quarter. The Mustangs had the ball, but the play didn’t go as planned with momentum swinging toward the visitors. Then senior point guard Jaquan Hall pulled up and drained a 3-pointer to give the Mustangs a one-point lead.
Midland Valley head coach Mark Snelgrove said that when Hall gets his feet set and lines up a shot, there’s no one the Mustangs would rather have shooting.
“He’s a good shooter,” Snelgrove said of Hall. “I’ve got no problem with him shooting anytime from anywhere.”
The teams traded baskets for a while, but in the end, it was the home team’s ability to get to the free throw line and make the shots down the stretch that put the game away.
Hall made a pair, Djuan Green nailed several and Daniel Carr converted a crucial basket-and-one to help the home team ice the game. Snelgrove said the focus on the fundamentals had been key to his halftime talk with his players.
“At halftime, we talked aobut we were up by one. ... We had six missed free throws and five missed free throws,” he said. “Some of the ones that missed free throws are really good free throw shooters.”
Hall finished with 13 points for the game to Green’s 11, but the more consistent offensive threat for the Mustangs throughout the night was the post duo of sophomore Kameron Brown and senior Javoddis Coach.
Brown, a sophomore, finished with 16 points to lead the Mustangs, but Snelgrove said Brown hasn’t been as willing to take shots and be a part of the offense through the early part of the season.
“Kameron don’t realize how good Kameron can be,” Snelgrove said.
Coach, a senior, doesn’t have the biggest frame, but at 6-foot-3 like Brown, he was more than big enough to put 12 points on the board, often fighting through contact to do so.
“I think he’s starting to understand how to play in there,” Snelgrove said.
Mackenzie said that the Mustangs’ ability to score in the paint, particularly with the pair of bigs, made a difference in the game’s final result.
“Midland Valley went to work on us inside,” he said.
Silver Bluff’s night wasn’t without bright spots, starting with senior Donte Wright, who led all scorers with 28 points. Wright’s effort was solid all-around, as he made 3 of 7 3-point attempts and all seven attempts from the free throw line.
Mackenzie said he didn’t even realize Wright had as many points as he did but knew the senior guard had been a catalyst.
“He kept us in it,” Mackenzie said. “Without his scoring ability, it’d be tough to stay in there.”
Junior Jaylen Lawrence also scored in double figures for the Bulldogs with 12.
Midland Valley will attempt to keep the good vibes going on Tuesday in a home rematch with Lakeside (Ga.), a team it beat 51-49 on Tuesday on the road. The game will be the second of a four-game homestand for the Mustangs.
Silver Bluff will be looking for its first win of the season on Tuesday, when it hosts Fox Creek.
Both games will follow 6 p.m. girls’ tipoffs.
SB 14 13 16 14 – 57
MV 17 11 15 19 – 62
Silver Bluff (0-2) - Devyn Tyler 2 1-2 5, Jalen Jackson 2 0-0 6, Donte Wright 9 7-7 28, Jaylen Lawrence 4 4-7 12, Brian Hickson 2 0-0 4, Greg Dunbar 1 0-0 2. Totals: 20 12-16 57.
3-pointers: Jackson (2), Wright (3).
Midland Valley (4-2) - Javoddis Coach 5 2-5 12, Kameron Brown 7 1-2 16, Djuan Green 1 9-12 11, Jaquan Hall 4 4-5 13, Latrell Lee 1 0-0 2, Daniel Carr 3 2-3 8. Totals: 21 18-27 62.
3-pointers: Brown, Hall.
SILVER BLUFF GIRLS 33, MIDLAND VALLEY 29
GRANITEVILLE — Friday night’s game ended up being a 33-29 nailbiting victory for the road Bulldogs (1-1), but it didn’t start out that way.
The Mustangs (1-1) made only one of their 28 first-half field goals and trailed the visitors 18-4 at the break.
Silver Bluff head coach Lashanteau Green said that the early lead was due, in part, to her team’s attention to offensive distribution.
“We worked the ball in the first half better than we did in the first game,” she said, referring to Tuesday’s 51-18 loss to Aiken.
No one scored in double digits for the Bulldogs, but eight different players scored points in a game that got much tighter in the second half thanks to the Mustangs’ bench players. Sparked by twin juniors Whitney and Brittany Campbell, the home team won the fourth quarter 10-1 to head into the final frame trailing 19-14.
Midland Valley head coach Carl Prescott said he’s found out two Campbells are usually better than one.
“I’ve had to learn that the twins play better together,” he said. “I guess they have that sibling instinct.”
Whitney finished with four points, and Britney was the Mustangs’ second-leading scorer with six.
Senior guard Alexis Bates missed her first 10 field goal attempts in the game, but she found her offense at the right time and finished the game with 14 points to lead all scorers. She made some timely baskets and pulled the Mustangs to within a score a couple times, but the Bulldogs held on in the end.
Green said she had to remind her team – led in scoring by sophomore Ashanti Brown with eight points – who was out front to pull them to a win.
“At the end, I told them to calm down and that we had the lead,” she sadi. “That was just an ugly win.”
The Bulldogs will host Fox Creek Tuesday at 6 p.m., while Midland Valley will host Lakeside (Ga.) at the same time.
SB 8 10 1 14 – 33
MV 2 2 10 15 – 29
SB - Teniqua Cushman 0 2-2 2, LaKeisha Hayward 1 0-0 2, Roxanna Cheek 1 0-2 2, Jasmine Judge 2 2-4 6, Ashanti Brown 3 2-3 8, Kippen Wallace 3 1-2 7, Estabana Key-Crawford 1 2-2 4, Laquisha Duncan 1 0-0 2. Totals 12 9-15 33.
MV - Alexis Bates 3 8-14 14, Christen Dunbar 0 1-2 1, Amber Abney 0 1-4 1, Gracie Gunter 0 1-3 1, Whitney Campbell 2 0-1 4, Kourtney King 0 0-3 0, Brittany Campbell 2 2-3 6, Ja’leisha Ellison 1 0-0 2. Totals 8 13-30 29.
Jeremy Timmerman has a journalism degree from Mercer University and has been at the Aiken Standard since June 2010.