AIKEN GIRLS 75, WEST ASHLEY 51
BY PHILIP M. BOWMAN
CHARLESTON — Some fast starts in the Class AAAA playoffs might give the Aiken girls basketball team a fantastic finish to the season.
Once again, the Hornets jumped to a big lead. And, once again they pulled off the upset to advance to the Lower State championship.
Aiken raced to a 25-15 lead at the end of the first quarter at West Ashley on Monday night en route to a 75-51 victory over the state’s No. 2 team.
“This group is special,” Aiken coach Aubrey Pompey said. “We have four seniors who want to go out as winners. I told them to go out and give it their best. They have fun. I just try to stay out of their way.”
It was the same plot the Hornets used to beat Summerville. They led 18-7 at the end of the first quarter against Summerville, and upset the Green Wave 58-45. It was the same story in the first round against Blythewood. The Hornets led 16-11 en route to a 59-41 victory.
“They came out very aggressive on offense,” West Ashley coach Maria Williams said. “We just didn’t respond. They had that intensity the entire game. We did not.”
Aiken upped its record to 19-7 and advances to play defending state champion and Region 5-AAAA champ Dutch Fork in the Lower State championship. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. Friday at the Florence Civic Center.
West Ashley had its 11-game winning streak snapped and finished with a 22-2 record.
Turnovers and transition doomed the Wildcats. They couldn’t hold on to the ball, turning the ball over 10 times in the first half. They couldn’t keep up with the Hornets’ fast-break attack or stop Alexis Odom underneath. She scored 12 points in the first quarter and finished with 26.
Pompey said that the focus on Odom was planned from the start.
“We felt like, going in, we could exploit inside,” he said. “They were very aggressive on the basketball.”
Erin Gilmore scored 11 points. She injured her ankle with 3:15 left in the third quarter and didn’t return. Rebekah Muir scored 13, and Jhay Graham tallied 11.
Dekeiya Cohen led West Ashley with 26 points. She had 94 points in three playoff games. Keosha Hardaway scored 13.
“We’re all disappointed,” Williams said. “We knew we could win this game. We just didn’t play our best game tonight.”
Jeremy Timmerman contributed to this report.
AIK 25 21 17 12 - 75
WA 15 7 20 9 - 51
Aiken (19-7): Gilmore 11, Williams 6, Muir 13, Graham 11, Tyler 8, Odom 26,
West Ashley (22-2): Cohen 26, Wesolek 6, Stokes 4, Hardaway 13, McLemore 2.