Sumter's High School's varsity girls basketball team exacted revenge on Sumter School District rival Crestwood on Friday, beating the Lady Knights 48-43 at the SHS gymnasium.
Crestwood won the previous matchup between the two teams 50-49 at The …
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Crestwood won the previous matchup between the two teams 50-49 at The Castle on Dec. 6 after a furious second-half comeback by the Lady Gamecocks.
The script was almost flipped on Friday with Sumter jumping out to an early 22-3 lead with 4:45 remaining in the first half before Crestwood began its comeback. The Lady Knights outscored Sumter 40-26 the rest of the way but simply ran out of time just like Sumter did in the first meeting.
"We've been talking about it since the last time we played them, that we have to bring more pressure to them early instead of being passive," said Sumter head coach Jeff Schaffer, whose team is ranked fifth among 5A schools in the latest South Carolina Basketball Coaches Association poll. "We got out there, got aggressive early, forced some turnovers and converted those into easy baskets and that kinda jump-started us.
"I take my hat off to Crestwood. They didn't give up, they kept fighting, they played really hard defense in the second half, and they cut that lead down pretty darn quick."
"We didn't come out with the focus we needed to come out with early," said Crestwood head coach Tony Wilson, whose team moved into the 4A poll at No. 7. "We were forcing a lot of shots. We took a lot of 3s(point shots) in the first half. I told the girls we needed to be patient, because they didn't do anything we haven't seen them do before. Sumter played with a lot of energy and they outhustled us in the first half so that was the difference."
Senior Tamerah Brown hit back-to-back 3s to put the Lady Gamecocks, who improved to 12-2 on the season, ahead 22-3 in the second quarter. Brown finished with 16 points on the night, including four made treys. Crestwood then responded by outscoring Sumter 8-3 over the final four minutes of the first half to cut the deficit to 25-11 at halftime.
Sumter came out firing in the second half, extending the lead to 36-13 after a layup by junior forward Layken Cox. Cox led the Lady Gamecocks with 19 points.
Crestwood senior guard CeCe Wells answered with a 3-pointer and backcourt mate Ashanti Washington followed with a 3 of her own to cut the deficit to 36-19.
The Lady Knights, who fell to 12-4, used an 11-6 run to get within striking distance, and then an 11-4 run to close out the game. Wells hit another trey to cut the lead to just 48-43 with 52 seconds remaining, but Sumter was able to dribble out the clock and thwart Crestwood's comeback attempt. Wells finished with a team-high 19 points.
"CeCe had a big second half," said Wilson. "I told her during halftime that she was forcing a lot. She didn't have any rhythm, but I told her to keep shooting, and she found her rhythm and we got back in the game."
Friday's game marked the final tune-up for both teams as they head into region play.
"I feel good going into region (V-4A)," said Wilson. "I told them we've got to get our mojo back. During the last two games we haven't been playing with our mojo. We've been standing around looking too much, and we're not playing with energy at the start of the game. We gotta get that back. Once we get that back, hopefully on Tuesday against A.C. Flora, we'll be OK."
"If we play with the intensity that we had in the first half we're going to be alright," said Schaffer. "But we still have to keep working on the fundamentals because we're still a little shaky on some things."
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