MANNING -- Breanna Boykin scored 26 points, including 9-of-13 free-throw shooting, to lead Laurence Manning Academy's varsity girls basketball team to a 58-41 victory over Trinity-Byrnes on Friday at Bubba Davis Gymnasium in the SCISA Region III-3A opener for both teams.
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LMA head coach Betsy Reynolds said Boykin, who scored the Lady 'Cats final eight points with four clutch free throws in the final 1:25, has been a difference maker.
"She did (make a difference) and she does most of the time," Reynolds said. "There's other nights when other people might get more points, but you're not going to find somebody who is going to try any harder than she does. She's not a very tall player, but she makes up for it with effort and it's just the desire to score and to win. (She makes) a lot of hustle plays. She's a smart player, she's coachable and as a senior it means a lot to her to do well, and for the team to do well."
The Lady 'Cats led pretty much wire-to-wire, with the Lady Titans' only lead of the night coming after a Haley Davis jumper in the lane to open the scoring. LMA would score the next seven points and lead 14-6 after the first quarter, with Boykin hitting a three for the Lady 'Cats first points and going 4-for-4 at the line over that stretch. Boykin also added a steal that led to a Madison Truett trey.
A 10-0 second quarter run allowed LMA to double up T-B, 26-13, before the Lady Titans trimmed the lead back to eight, 28-20, at the break. Boykin added a second 3-pointer to close the half with 10 while Bryce Erickson struck for eight of her 11 points in the opening two quarters.
"Bryce is just a sophomore, and she just has so much potential," Reynolds said. "We've been working with her to try to give her more confidence, and I think she went to the basket a lot better tonight and with more confidence. Of course, she got into foul trouble (picking up her fourth foul late in the third quarter) and we got to put her back in at the end of the game, but she can be a real game-changer for us because her rebounding is outstanding, even for a sophomore."
Katherine Burns knocked down a three while Truett added her second of the night as the Lady 'Cats led 38-25 with 4:15 to go in the third. A trap defense by the Lady Titans held LMA at bay for much of the rest of the period but a Boykin fast-break bucket with 38 seconds on the clock pushed the advantage back to nine, 40-31, heading to the final quarter.
The lead got down to single digits, 47-38, after a low-post bucket from Teal Howle at the 3:20 mark, but Reynolds called a timeout to steady her crew and the Lady 'Cats outscored T-B 11-3 down the stretch to pull away for the comfortable win.
"This group of girls is probably the most amazing group I've ever coached, and just to have the opportunity to work with them is an honor," Reynolds said as her team improved to 7-5 and 1-0. "They got out there and played with all they had, with all their heart."
LMA came into Friday's game missing starter Audrey Bennett, who is still recovering from a concussion suffered in a game last Saturday against Spartanburg Christian. Reynolds had seven regular players and one junior varsity call-up available against T-B, and she was impressed with the effort of all who took the floor.
"That's just all about trying to be the best we can as a program," Reynolds said, "and being willing to do what it takes."
McKenzie Davis scored 20 to lead the Lady Titans, who fell to 1-6 and 0-1.
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