A year after being shut out of the Georgia High School Association state basketball tournaments, three Columbia County teams made it to the big dance, including both Evans squads.
The Lady Knights were the first to advance with a 52-48 win over Jones County on Tuesday in the Region 2-AAAAA Girls Basketball Tournament at Jones County. Wednesday, the Evans boys followed suit with a 60-57 win over Houston County, and the Harlem Bulldogs made it with a 69-42 win over East Laurens in the Region 3-AA Boys Basketball Tournament.
All three advanced to the semifinals of their respective tournaments Friday night and a win there would guarantee a home game in the first round of the state tournament.
The No. 1 seed Lady Knights (17-7, 9-1) led by seven at the half, but the No. 4 Lady Greyhounds (8-16, 0-7) kept it close until the final buzzer.
“We made it too exciting,” said Evans head coach Ryan Morningstar. “We came out nervous and I expected a little of that.”
The Lady Knights led 36-32 after three quarters and were up 38-37 when Jasmine Stone hit a 3-pointer to give the Lady Knights some leeway.
“That was a big 3-pointer,” Morningstar said. “Then they missed and Autumn Johnson scored in transition.”
Stone led the Lady Knights with 25 points and Allysha McFarland chipped in with 11.
The Knights (22-4, 10-0 region) continued its unbeaten path through the region.
The Knights led 58-52 with 21 seconds to play, but Houston County cut the lead to 59-57 with five seconds to play. Damian Foreman hit one of two free throws and Jacob Buchanan blocked a potential tying 3-pointer to seal the win.
“We had a little meltdown at the last minute but we hung on,” said Evans head coach Kevin Kenny. “If Buchanan hadn’t got that block, we could well have gone into overtime.”
Foreman led the Knights with 19 points, K’Lon Lovett had 14 and Buchanan had nine.
After having to beat Screven County in a play-in game Monday, the Harlem Bulldogs advanced to the semifinals of the Region 3-AA Boys Basketball Tournament at Laney High School Wednesday night.
The Bulldogs’ trip to the state tournament is the first for the Bulldogs since 2002.
“That’s monumental right there,” said Bulldogs head coach Kim Chambers. “We played one of the best games we played all year. We played great defense, we boxed out and we controlled the boards.”
The Bulldogs (15-12, 4-4) raced out to a 32-16 halftime lead, holding East Laurens to four second-quarter points, and cruised from there.
Standout guard Reggie Reid put up 30 points and had plenty of help as Dylan Farmer had 11 points, Torien Beard added 10 points and Cameron Brown had seven.
In the rest of the girls Region 2-AAAAA tournament, the Grovetown Lady Warriors (13-12, 2-8) gave Houston County all they could handle, but succumbed in the end, 48-46. The Greenbrier Lady Wolfpack (17-8, 6-4) fell to Northside, Warner Robins 53-46, while Lakeside lost to Warner Robins 42-31.
The boys’ side of the Region 2-AAAAA tournament finished with Northside advancing as they ended Greenbrier’s season with a 77-55 win. The Wolfpack finished the season 5-19, 3-7. The Grovetown Warriors (8-18, 3-7 ) also reached the end of the road, losing 65-43 to Jones County. In Wednesday’s final game, Lakeside’s comeback fell short as they lost to Warner Robins 61-57. The Panthers finished 8-16, 3-7.
In Georgia Independent School Association Region 4-AAA Tournament play, both the Augusta Prep girls and boys teams had their seasons end Tuesday night. Despite a 19-point effort from Amanda Murphy, the Lady Cavaliers (15-7, 2-6) were ousted by Westminster 45-38 while the boys (13-10) lost to John Milledge, 45-42.
With its regular season complete, the Augusta Christian Lady Lions (12-12, 3-4 Region 1-AAA) were slated to face Laurence Manning in 2013 South Carolina Independent School Association Class AAA Tournament Friday. With a win, the Lady Lions, a No. 4 seed in the 12-team state tournament, would play No. 1 seed Pinewoood Prep, Tuesday, Feb. 19, at the Sumter (S.C.) Civic Center at 5 p.m.
The Lions (19-5, 4-4) received a No. 2 seed and a first-round bye in the boys state tournament and will play the Pinewood Prep-Orangeburg Prep winner Wednesday, Feb. 20, at the Sumter Civic Center at