When seldom-used forward Tyus McKelvey knocked down a 3-pointer at the buzzer, giving Southside a second consecutive Class 3A boys basketball state championship, his teammates happily mobbed him at midcourt.
It was that type of day for the Tigers. They never trailed as they cruised to a 74-58 victory against Ridgeland-Hardeeville on Saturday at Colonial Life Arena.
The top-ranked Tigers finished 23-2 and 50-3 over the past two seasons.
“It’s all about these kids. They played hard for their community, which supports their basketball so much. I’m extremely pleased,” Southside coach Steve Beasley said. “We didn’t play very well, but it was enough to win.”
The game was tied once, at two, and a huge second-quarter run put Southside firmly in control. The Tigers used a 14-2 run that started late in the first quarter and carried over to late in the second to give the defending champs a 28-11 lead.
R.J. Campbell, who finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds, scored six points during the run. The lead stayed double-digits the rest of the half, with the Tigers holding a 36-22 advantage at the break.
Ridgeland-Hardeeville got within eight points three times in the second half but couldn’t overcome the large first-half deficit.
“We were a little bit out of sync both defensively and offensively,” R-H coach Jeremiah Faber said. “That allowed them to develop that lead, and that placed us behind the 8-ball the entire game. There were times we made a run, but then we did something uncharacteristic.”
Jamal Burke finished with 15 points and 21 rebounds as Southside had four players finish in double figures. Jayden Shell added 12 points, and Jalon Calhoun finished with 11 points.
Burke and Campbell combined for 35 points and 32 rebounds. The Jaguars never had an answer for the inside duo.
“The difference in the game was their interior and inside game,” Faber said.
Devin Butler led Ridgeland-Hardeeville (23-2) with 20 points, and Rashamel Butler added 14 points. The second loss in the title game in the past four years doesn’t diminish the accomplishments of the Jaguars this year.
“We had a slogan, ‘trust the process.’ That motivated us throughout the season. We came up a little short, and I’m disappointed, but I’m very proud of my kids. I thought we played as well as we could play. A couple of plays on each side of the ball could have made a difference for us.”
S – R.J Campbell 20, Jamal Burke 15, Jayden Shell 12, Jalon Calhoun 11, Canada 9, Brock 4, McKelvey 3. R-H – Devin Butler 20, Rashamel Butler 14, Pusha 9, Williams 6, Westbrook 5, Robinson 2, Smith 2.