NORTH AUGUSTA 60 AIKEN 51
NORTH AUGUSTA — The North Augusta boys' basketball team overcame an early deficit en route to clinching the Region 5-AAAA title with a 60-51 home win over Aiken on Wednesday.
Aiken led for much of the first quarter, until senior Christian Davis nailed a buzzer-beater on Senior Night to give the Jackets (18-5, 8-2) an 11-9 lead heading into the second quarter. The teams traded blows early in the frame, but the home team stretched its lead to 26-18 by halftime and never gave it back to the Hornets (14-10, 5-5).
“We were able to pull it together and pull it out,” said North Augusta head coach Al Young.
Despite the festivities honoring seniors, a trio of players who still have at least another year at North Augusta carried a bulk of the load offensively. Junior Chandler Harrison and and sophomore Jaquez “Jock” Smith had 15 points each, followed by junior Malik Dunbar with 13 and Davis with nine.
Much of Smith's scoring came in the second half, with Aiken threatening to ruin the Jackets' chance at a title.
“Jock is always there. He's such a big help to us,” said Young, pointing to Smith's passing and defensive abilities on top of his scoring. “I just thought he knocked down some big shots.”
Those shots were necessary, in large part, because of the efforts of Aiken's Dramel Coleman. The senior guard suffered a meniscus injury last month that required surgery and wasn't expected back in action until at least next week. With fellow seniors Megal Hill and Deon Hicks no longer with the team, Coleman suited up and led the team with 14 points in his first game in nearly a month.
Head coach Tony Harrell said he was glad to have Coleman back for a “shot in the arm,” but he's also been pleased with how his team has responded to Coleman's absence.
“Kid's a ballplayer,” Harrell said. “We sure missed him for a couple weeks, but our kids grew without him.”
The Hornets also got 11 points and three 3-pointers from Dominic Chaplin.
Aiken had cut the North Augusta lead down to one point in the third, but the Jackets were able to pull away enough for both coaches to get some bench players into the game down the stretch.
Resting regulars could prove crucial, with both teams starting the playoffs tonight as part of a busy week. The Jackets will host Ridge View tonight at 7:30 p.m. as their third game in as many days, while the Hornets will hit the road to face Sumter for their fourth game in four days.
Not knowing who each team would face to open the playoffs until after Wednesday's game left both coaches short on preparation time.
“I'm sure they're going to come in and play hard,” Young said of Ridge View, a team he will try to study on film. “Hopefully, I'll get a chance to see them (today) before the game.”
As for Harrell, he's led the Hornets to road playoff victories each of the last two seasons. Even as the No. 4 seed going up against a “big, athletic” Sumter team on the road today at 7:30 p.m. without two of its key contributors, he hopes for a solid effort and a chance to win in the fourth quarter.
“Aiken High's got a lot of pride,” he said. “It doesn't matter which kid we put on the floor, the expectation is the same.”
AHS 9 9 18 15 — 51
NAHS 11 15 14 20 — 60
Aiken (14-10, 5-5) — Dominic Chaplin 4 0-0 11, Jordan McKevie 1 3-4 5, D.J. Kitchings 1 1-2 4, Dramel Coleman 6 2-4 14, Stacy Toole 2 3-4 7, Dexter Sullivan 1 0-0 2, Devante Gaiters 1 0-0 3, Nigee Dennis 0 2-2 2, Antawn Chandler 1 0-0 3. Totals 17 11-16 51.
3-pointers: Chaplin (3), Kitchings, Gaiters, Chandler.
North Augusta (18-5, 8-2) — Keyon West 2 0-0 4, Christian Davis 3 0-0 9, Chandler Harrison 7 1-2 15, Malik Dunbar 5 3-3 13, Jaquez Smith 7 0-0 15, Victor Johnson 1 1-2 3, Raekwon Daniels 0 1-2 1. Totals 25 6-9 60.
3-pointers: Davis (3), Smith.
GIRLSNORTH AUGUSTA 59 AIKEN 39
NORTH AUGUSTA — The North Augusta girls shook off Tuesday's blowout loss with a runaway of their own, toppling Aiken 59-39.
Mallory Stone led the way for the Jackets (13-11, 8-2 Region 5-AAAA) with 17 points, and head coach Crystal Cummings said the win was even more important on the heels of the team's 72-8 loss to Dutch Fork.
“It means more than just a win ... coming off that tumultuous game last night,” she said.
Both coaches rested their starters for the bulk of the fourth quarter, with their playoff destinies sealed. As the region's No. 2 seed, North Augusta will host South Florence tonight at 6 p.m., while Aiken (8-17, 4-6) will travel to play West Florence at 7 p.m. as the No. 4 seed.
Hornet head coach Aubrey Pompey said the scheduling of the last couple weeks, heavily impacted by the winter storm and ensuing power outages, has been difficult on everyone. But he said his squad, like the rest, will have to adapt if it plans to advance in the Class AAAA playoffs.
“Everybody's had to go through it, so we've all had to adjust,” he said.
AHS 9 1 20 9 — 39
NAHS 15 14 16 14 — 59
Aiken (8-17, 4-6) — Olivia Felton 0 0-1 0, Kelsee Sapp 3 1-2 7, Tyeshia McKevie 0 2-2 2, Destiny Williams 1 4-4 6, Shaniah Thomas 0 3-6 3, Mirakle Johnson 2 5-9 9, Kim Vinson 2 0-0 4, Maggie Odom 1 0-0 2, Sophie Nance 1 0-0 2, Isabelle Holland 0 0-2 0, Destiny Richardson 1 2-2 4. Totals 11 17-28 39.
North Augusta (13-11, 8-2) — Ashley Blocker 0 0-2 0, Sierra Sanders 4 0-0 8, Alexus Williams 2 0-2 4, Paige Pulley 1 0-0 2, Cydney Matthews 3 1-2 7, Kellie Cooper 1 0-0 2, Ja'Lyn Sanders 3 2-2 10, Mallory Stone 5 4-8 17, Ashton Blocker 2 3-6 7, Destiny Matthews 1 0-0 2. Totals 22 10-22 59.
3-pointers: J. Sanders (2), Stone (3).
Jeremy Timmerman has a journalism degree from Mercer University.
Staff photo by Jeremy Timmerman North Augusta's Mallory Stone goes up for a layup against Aiken.×
Staff photo by Jeremy Timmerman Aiken's Dramel Coleman (15) looks to drive against the North Augusta defense in his first game back after knee surgery.×
Staff photo by Jeremy Timmerman North Augusta's Chandler Harrison (10) rises above the defense of Aiken's Stacy Toole (21).×
Staff photo by Jeremy Timmerman North Augusta's Keyon West (11) looks for a clear path to the basket against Aiken.×
Staff photo by Jeremy Timmerman Aiken's Stacy Toole (21) looks to shoot over North Augusta's Victor Johnson (35).×