AIKEN BOYS 62, STROM THURMOND 51
By Scott Rodgers
The Aiken High School boys basketball team got off to a fast start and never looked back against Strom Thurmond.
The Hornets (2-1) got four 3-pointers by Justin Smith in the game’s first ten minutes and a monster game from Shawn Moore, who had 25 to best the Rebels (1-2) and Daquarius Johnson’s 17 points.
“Both of those kids shoot the basketball extremely well,” Aiken head coach Tony Harrell said. “I was proud of the way that the ball moved; we had great ball movement, and when you’re a shooter and you can get open looks it’s a lot easier to knock those down. We did a tremendous job getting out shooters in spots where they could knock down those shots.”
The 3-point line has haunted the Rebels in their past two games, as both Butler (Ga.) and Aiken have had success from beyond the arc. In this matchup the Hornets knocked down nine, with Smith and Moore both having four and Jordan Habersham having one of his own.
“You know what hurt us tonight? Three-pointers and rebounds,” Strom Thurmond head coach Bo Rouse said following the game. “If we would’ve defended against 3-pointers and got some rebounds it would have been a totally different game. One of the things we thought coming in here was that we could out-rebound them, and that wasn’t the case. They killed us on the boards. They killed us.”
The Rebels were unable to get a substantial run going until five minutes remained in the fourth. Strom Thurmond got within nine, and after a back-and-fourth defensive stand by both teams, the Rebels were able to get a steal and close the gap to seven.
That would be as close as Strom Thurmond would get, however, as Ryan McKie hit a layup, followed by big shot by John Besson, and Moore got a layup of his own and the foul on three straight trips. Defensively the Hornets were able to force the Rebels into bad shots.
“We stress defense, and last Thursday we gave up a lot of points,” Harrell said. “We talked a lot about playing better defense, and we changed up our defense a bit, we played a lot more zone than we’re use to. We wanted to do a better job at stopping layups, and we did that.”
“Layups get you beat in high school basketball, and we didn’t give up a lot of layups tonight so we were able to hold them down.”
Strom Thurmond will look to get back on the winning track at Saluda on Friday night, while Aiken hosts Silver Bluff. Both games are scheduled to tip at 8 p.m.
AHS 20 19 8 15 – 62
STHS 13 10 12 16 – 51
AHS (2-1)—Shawn Moore 8 5-8 25, Justin Smith 4 0-0 12, John Besson 2 2-2 6, Jordan Habersham 1 2-3 5, Stacy Toole 1 2-4 4, Jaylen Croft 1 2-2 4, Ryan McKie 1 1-6 3, Megal Hill 1 0-1 2, Jared Davis 0 1-4 1. Totals: 20 15-30 62.
3 pointers—Moore (4), Smith (4), Habersham
STHS (1-2)—Daquarius Johnson 5 6-10 17, Jasergio Kennion 3 6-6 14, Deontrez Mealing 3 0-0 6, Ty Brooks 1 2-2 5, Baylor Jones 2 1-3 5, Josh Hamilton 1 0-0 2, Jaylan Robinson 1 0-0 2. Totals: 16 15-21 51.
3 pointers—Kennion (2), Johnson, Brooks
AIKEN GIRLS 50, STROM THURMOND 21
Monique Tyler had 20 points, and the Hornets were able to cruise to an easy win despite being shut out in the fourth quarter.
The Hornets (3-2) put up 36 points in the first half and their defense frustrated and confused the Rebels (1-2) who had trouble with turnovers.
“We got away from our pressure, which is what we use to generate our offense,” Aiken head coach Aubrey Pompey said. “We talked before the game that we needed to score in the halfcourt game. In the second half, it didn’t work too well, but we had the game in hand, and it gave everyone an opportunity to get in and get some reps.”
Aiken’s defensive pressure was a major key in the first half, and it used those steals to create scoring opportunities in the paint with Tyler and outside with Rebekah Muir, who had three 3-pointers on the night.
“We’ve been able to do that early, and sometimes the offenses for these teams don’t catch up to the defense until later on in the season,” Pompey said of the pressure that his team generated. “We’re probably a little ahead defensively; we’re playing well and getting in position. We’re also taking some chances, but people are rotating and getting where they need to be.”
The Aiken girls will be in action on Friday night at 6 p.m. as they host Silver Bluff, while Strom Thurmond will head to Saluda with tip scheduled for the same time.
AHS 18 18 14 0 – 50
STHS 5 6 6 4 – 21
AHS (3-2)—Monique Tyler 10 0-0 20, Rebekah Muir 4 0-1 11, Erin Gilmore 2 1-2 5, Kelsee Sapp 1 2-4 4, Alexis Odum 1 2-4 4, Maggie Odum 1 0-0 2, Sophie Nance 1 0-0 2, Autriauna Ingram 1 0-0 2. Totals: 21 5-11 50.
STHS (1-2)—McKayla Griffin 4 0-0 8, Shay Widner 2 3-3 7, Jasmine Mealing 1 0-0 2, Ebony Robinson 1 0-0 2, Shakiera Martin 1 0-1 2. Totals: 9 3-4 21.
Scott Rodgers is a graduate of Alvernia University and a staff writer at the Aiken Standard.