LEXINGTON 41, SOUTH AIKEN 28

By NOAH FEIT


nfeit@aikenstandard.com


It was one of those nights for the South Aiken boys basketball team. The Thoroughbreds couldn’t get their offense going and, in spite of a strong defensive effort, came out on the wrong end of a 41-28 final score in Friday’s home loss to Lexington.


“Our offense was stagnant, and we didn’t get good movement. When we did get looks at the basket, we didn’t get them to drop. That’s a bad combination,” said South Aiken coach Drew Jernigan, who was quick to credit the effort his players gave on defense. “I want to commend our defensive effort.”


While complimenting his team for holding the Wildcats (12-6, 2-0 Region 5-AAAA) well below the 67 points they scored on North Augusta in a region-opening win Tuesday, Jernigan also credited the visitors’ ability to stop his team from scoring.


“They were solid in the right spots and did a great job contesting shots,” Jernigan said as his team only got four points combined from his starting backcourt of Jordan Dingle and Jordan Scott, two players who are usually his team’s leading scorers.


Lexington coach Bailey Harris said it was the variety of defenses his team played that helped keep South Aiken (5-8, 1-1) off balance and ineffective.


“We mixed it up a lot. We played matchup zone and worked in some traps. Then we used some man-to-man and worked in some more traps,” he said. “We used four different defenses and they missed a lot of shots they usually make.”


The same was true of the Wildcats in the first half, which ended with them holding a slim 14-13 edge. But their persistence paid off in the third quarter when they continued to hold the T-Breds in check while steadily pulling away, outscoring the home team 18-5 in the decisive quarter.


“South Aiken played us hard, but I’m most pleased we didn’t get frustrated. We stayed patient,” Harris said, adding the only adjustment he made at intermission was to try and get the ball more in the hands of Nygel Gates, one of the few holdovers from last season’s Lower State championship team. Gates finished with a game-best 18 points and was the only player on either team to score in double digits. “It was ugly, but I’m proud.”


The final score could’ve been more lopsided, if it wasn’t for Lexington’s woes at the free-throw line. The Wildcats went 17-for-31 from the charity stripe but were 7-for-10 in the fourth quarter when the T-Breds frantically tried to mount a comeback.


They trimmed the deficit to as little as nine points but could get no closer.


Richard Davis scored a team-high eight points for South Aiken, which will try to rebound in region on Tuesday, when it hosts North Augusta.


“We’re on the right track and continuing to get better,” Jernigan said. “We have to find a way to get the ball in the hole and play with the same defensive attitude.”


LEX 8 6 18 9 – 41


SA 4 9 5 10 – 28


Lexington (12-6, 2-0 Region 5-AAAA)—Damon Davis 0 2-3 2, Mav Bishop 0 1-2 1, Mike Morris 1 2-6 4, Grant Hendrix 1 0-0 3, Nelson Spence 1 4-8 7, Nygel Gates 5 8-12 18, Phillip Blane 3 0-0 6. Totals: 11 17-31 41.


3-Pointers: Hendrix, Spence.


South Aiken (5-8 1-1 Region 5-AAAA)—Rock Kirkland 1 0-0 2, Richard Davis 3 2-2 8, Rasool Clemmons 1 0-0 2, Jordan Scott 2 0-0 4, Sam Okey 1 0-0 3, Austin Kyles 2 0-0 4, Adam Elam 0 1-2 1, Latrell Brown 1 2-2 4. Totals: 11 5-6 28.


3-Pointers: Okey.



South Aiken girls 47, Lexington 37 (OT)

In the final minutes of the fourth quarter, the South Aiken High School girls’ basketball team had a number of opportunities to break a tie with visiting Lexington. But neither the Thoroughbreds nor the Wildcats could score at all for the final 2 minutes, sending the Region 5-AAAA game to overtime.


In the extra session, all of the pent-up energy was released as the teams swapped baskets in the first 20 seconds. South Aiken never slowed down, going on a 14-0 run to snap out of an offensive funk for a 47-37 victory.


“This was a big win,” T-Breds coach Erin Brinkley said of the victory that evened her team’s region record at 1-1 following a lopsided loss to defending state champion Dutch Fork Tuesday. “Lexington is a team that beat us pretty profoundly last season. We want to improve on what we did last year and prove to ourselves that we can do it. We’re putting pride back in the system, and these are the girls that can build this program.”


It was a team effort in overtime, as five different T-Breds (6-2) scored during the decisive run. Morgan Fair got it started with a free throw, and when she missed a second attempt, Courtney Farrell was there for a putback. Farrell set up another basket with a steal that she placed into the hands of Bri Parks for an easy lay-in and Kyasia Youmans hit three free throws to go with a steal and a fastbreak layup. Farrell added another basket and MaKenzie Smith rounded out the run with a pair of free throws.


For the game, Youmans led South Aiken with 14 points, Smith chipped in 12 and Farrell added 10. But the ultimate reason the T-Breds prevailed was the tough defense they played. They didn’t use too much full-court pressure but extended their man-to-man coverage deep into the perimeter to force the Lexington (10-5, 1-1) ball handlers into awkward positions that often led to empty possessions.


“Defense was the difference,” Brinkley said of the effort that allowed her team to break loose for the run in overtime. “We didn’t shoot good, but our defensive intensity was up the whole game.”


South Aiken will look to capitalize on the overtime win when they return to action at home on Tuesday against North Augusta.


LEX 7 4 11 9 6 – 37


SA 14 4 5 8 16 – 47


Lexington (10-5, 1-1 Region 5-AAAA)—Allison Kay 1 0-2 3, Darnecia Sylve 3 0-0 7, Laina Carnes 1 0-0 2, Taylor Foulks 1 0-0 2, Destinee Langford 5 5-6 15, KaTerra Smith 1 0-0 2, Sarah Moore 3 0-0 6. Totals: 15 5-8 37.


3-Pointers: Kay, Sylve.


South Aiken (6-2, 1-1 Region 5-AAAA)—Jessica Schiffer 1 1-2 3, Kyasia Youmans 4 5-7 14, MaKenzie Smith 3 5-10 12, Morgan Fair 1 1-2 3, Bri Parks 1 1-2 3, Emily Koger 0 1-2 1, Courtney Farrell 5 0-0 10. Totals: 15 14-25 47.


3-Pointers: Youmans, Smith, Fair.


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.