April Jenkins limped from a classroom adjacent to Ridgeland High School's gym, ice wrapped around a sprained left ankle.
Minutes after the Jaguars defeated Latta 59-45 in the second round of the Class 1-A playoffs, the Ridgeland guard exhibited the physical nature of the game. A heated contest culminated in ejections on both sides with less than a minute remaining.
Ridgeland advanced, bruised but not beaten. Ridgeland will travel Feb. 20 to play the Timmonsville-Baptist Hill winner.
"We knew from the beginning they was going to come here wanting to beat us," said Jenkins, an all-state selection who suffered her injury during the second half. "They didn't drive that long way for no reason. We knew the intensity would be up."
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Ridgeland's Tiara Nelson was tossed with 54 seconds remaining. Under S.C. High School League rules, an ejected player is automatically suspended from the next game.
Jaguars coach Frederick Toomer said he plans to appeal the suspension. He said film will show Nelson was walking away from a possible altercation and that a Latta player was the aggressor.
"I talked to the ref the last couple minutes and said it was getting dirty out there," Toomer said. "I told (my players) to run the opposite way."
Toomer and Latta coach Curtis Jackson agreed the opposing players should not shake hands after the game.
Jackson said the Vikings were prepared for Ridgeland's constant defensive pressure, that they had worked to solve the defending Class 1-A champions. Latta finished 11-1 in Region 8-A and anticipated a good showing in the playoffs, Jackson said.
"We handled their pressure," Jackson said. "It wasn't the players on the floor. It was the guys in the striped shirts."
It was the Jaguars who faced foul trouble during the first half. Guard Matesha Stevenson sat with three fouls.
The Ridgeland lead was only four at the break.
But after Jenkins was slowed by the ankle, Stevenson picked up the slack. And Nelson finished down low on the secondary break.
Ridgeland led by nine entering the final quarter and used an 11-2 run to double the margin.
Nelson, the team's leading rebounder, and fellow post player NyJae Boozer have helped fill the void left by 2011 Class 1-A player of the year Brittany Richardson.
"Tiara and NyJae stepped up and have done a good job on the boards and getting loose balls," Jenkins said. "We feel like nothing really changed."
Ridgeland 59, Latta 45
LATTA (14-5)-- Tianna Deberry 19, Ta'Keria Legette 11, Jessica Evans 5, Courtney McCullock 4, Silesia Braddy 2, Brittany Burgess 2, Kierra Johnson 2
RIDGELAND (21-4)-- April Jenkins 20, Tiara Nelson 11, Telethea Dopson 10, Matesha Stevenson 9, NyJae Boozer 8, Shantavia Swinton 1