Aiken 59, Conway 58
Playing without two suspended regulars, including leading scorer Shawn Moore, the Aiken High boys’ basketball team overcame an eight-point deficit with less than three minutes to play in a road win over Conway in the first round of the Class AAAA playoffs.
In a back-and-forth game that was tied after the second and third quarter, the Hornets (17-8) won thanks to a clutch finish. Down by four points with less than a minute to play, Deon Hicks hit a 3-pointer to pull his squad within one. Following a timeout, the Hornets fouled and the Conway shooter made only one of two free throws with 11 second remaining.
With the game on the line, Ryan McKie got the ball and delivered. He made a hard drive to the basket and was fouled as he made a game-tying shot. McKie, who led the Hornets with 19 points, sank the free throw to provide the winning margin for Aiken, which will play its second-round game at Goose Creek on Saturday.
“The guys were resilient and never gave up,” Hornets coach Tony Harrell said of his squad, which got 12 points from Dramel Coleman in his return from a hand injury and nine more from Hicks. “We got great contributions off the bench and it was a total team effort. I’m proud of the guys.”
Silver Bluff 73, Battery Creek 63
The Silver Bluff boys’ basketball team played one of its best games of the season in its playoff opener. Playing on the road, the Bulldogs (12-10) beat Battery Creek in a first-round Class AA playoff game.
Silver Bluff built an early lead, which grew to 12 points at halftime. The Dolphins used a physical and aggressive approach to trim their deficit to just three points, but couldn’t get any closer because of a savvy fourth-quarter performance by the Bulldogs.
“That was one of our best games down the stretch,” Silver Bluff head coach Robbie McKenzie said. “We controlled the tempo and took smart shots, high-percentage looks and open looks. We did not turn it over against great pressure.”
Silver Bluff was led by Jaylen Lawrence, who had a huge 31-point performance. He was part of an accurate attack on offense that resulted in one of the Bulldogs’ best shooting nights this season. They combined to hit nine 3-pointers.
Donte Wright had a big game, narrowly missing a double-double with 14 points and eight assists. Jalen Jackson contributed nine points to the cause for Silver Bluff, which will return to action on Saturday against the winner of the game between Calhoun County and Ridgeland-Hardeeville. Although a Calhoun County win would mean another road game for Silver Bluff, McKenzie said that’s the matchup his players want.
That’s because they lost the Region 5-AA title to Calhoun County this season, in spite of splitting the season series, 1-1. The Bulldogs’ win was actually on the road, a place they’re undaunted about playing.