The Ridgeland High School boys basketball team began its Class 1-A playoff run before Tuesday's opening round.
A victory over Whale Branch High School on Feb. 10 gave the Jaguars the No. 3 seed and a more favorable road matchup. Ridgeland knew Tuesday's opponent well, having scrimmaged Baptist Hill before the season and having seen the school annually during a holiday tournament at Burke.
So the Jaguars knew what would work Tuesday, and they rolled Baptist Hill 68-48. After the game, Ridgeland received more good news when Ridgeland coach Jeremiah Faber heard No. 4 seed Latta upset No. 1 seed C.E. Murray, meaning the Jaguars will host Latta on Friday in the second round.
"The kids are believing," said Faber, whose team improved to 15-10. "We have a vision. That vision is to get to Columbia. We don't want to lose sight of that vision."
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Terrance Frazier led the Jaguars with 16 points. Tyron Mikell scored 15 and Derrick Solomon added 12. Faber said Mikell and Solomon did a good job establishing themselves on the low block.
He knew Baptist Hill would sit in its zone defense. Jaguars guards penetrated the zone and kicked out or dumped down to the post.
Faber said the victory over Whale Branch, a tiebreaker to determine the third and fourth seeds from Region 5-A, helped ignite the back end of Ridgeland's season.
"We played perhaps the best game we played all season," he said. "That kind of carried over into tonight's game."
Class 3-A boys basketball playoffs: Wilson 61, Hilton Head High 27
The adrenaline lasted about a half for the Hilton Head Island High School boys basketball team Tuesday.
The road playoff atmosphere helped. But in the second half, Wilson turned up the defensive pressure and chased the Seahawks from the Class 3-A boys basketball playoffs
Hilton Head High coach Ken Updike said the Seahawks wanted to force Wilson to shoot from the outside, to choke the post and Wilson big men Alandre Davis and Brandon Jones. And for a half, Hilton Head High owned the rebounding edge.
But Davis scored 10 of his 15 points during the second half. And Jones finished with 11. Both posted double-doubles for Wilson.
"They got the intensity going their way," Updike said. "We couldn't recover from there."
Seahawks forward Michael Julian led the team with seven points and six rebounds. Hilton Head High trailed only 21-17 at the half.
But Wilson opened the third quarter in full-court press. Its guards found their way into the lane and created second-chance opportunities, Updike said.
"They did a good job pressuring the ball," he said. "They can gamble with their guards. If they gamble and lose, they have some athletic bigs behind them."
The Seahawks (11-14) finished tied for third in Region 7-AAA after defeating rival Bluffton High School at the buzzer last week. Hilton Head High should lose only senior Alex MacDonald. Updike, in his third season, said the program should improve next season.
Class 1-A boys basketball playoffs: Burke 51, Whale Branch 47
Whale Branch High School carried the correct mindset into the school's first boys basketball playoff game, at Class 1-A power Burke. But the Warriors couldn't carry out a victory.
Whale Branch led by seven after three quarters. To that point, the Warriors had committed only nine turnovers, which would have been a season low.
Burke was the Class 1-A runner-up a season ago, has won 54 consecutive region games and its coach, Earl Brown, boasts more than 700 victories. Warriors coach Linc Lyles read all the numbers in The (Charleston) Post and Courier story previewing Burke's playoff run.
"Our kids were not intimidated," Lyles said.
The Bears forced seven turnovers during the final quarter. The intensity rose. And Burke enjoyed a first-round victory on its home floor.
Whale Branch (15-9) enjoyed an about-face following its inaugural season. And Lyles' team almost pulled off the shocker on the road.
"Probably our best game since I've been at Whale Branch," Lyles said. "It don't feel like it when you get beat."
Dee Delaney scored 16 points and added seven rebounds, six steals and four assists to lead the Warriors. Forward Leroy Perry scored 10 points and grabbed 13 rebounds.
Burke standout John Ross led all scorers with 29 points.