When you’re seeking your first playoff victory in a decade, you take it however it comes. And it couldn’t have come more scrappily for Beaufort’s boys than their Class 3-A opener Tuesday night.
The Eagles overcame a seven-point deficit entering the final quarter to claim a 53-50 triumph over Aiken, finally pushing past the Hornets with 30.7 seconds left on Kameron Jenkins’ technical free throw at the end of a chaotic sequence.
Trying to get on the end of a fast break with the game tied at 50, Aiken’s Isaiah Odom dove for an errant pass that was judged to glance off his fingertips. Odom jumped up in vehement protest when officials awarded Beaufort possession, drawing a technical foul that sent Jenkins to the line.
Jenkins missed the first free throw but swished the second to give Beaufort its first lead all night. With the Eagles retaining possession, Matt Garay scored the last of his 12 fourth-quarter points for the final margin.
“It was ugly,” Beaufort coach Nate Livesay said. “When you miss as many free throws and layups as we did, it puts you in a tough situation. But we kept battling, and at the end the guys started to believe in what it takes to win.”
The Eagles (13-9), the top seed in Region 8, moved on to a Friday matchup against the Wilson-Crestwood winner. It was the first time they were able to celebrate a postseason win since 2004.
“That was our goal at the beginning of the season, even more than winning the region,” Livesay said. “I’m very proud of our guys. They’ve exceeded expectations.”
Garay was held in check most of the night, including twisting his ankle in a sequence at the very end of the first half, but finally found his rhythm to finish with 16 points. Jenkins added 12 points, the final five coming on fourth-quarter free throws, and Monty White scored 11.
Jordan Lytes led the Hornets (6-16) with 13 points. Odom added 12, but found himself at both ends of the spectrum in the final moments.
After driving the lane for what turned out to be Aiken’s final points, he was called for an awkward double dribble on his next trip down the floor. He fouled Jenkins on Beaufort’s ensuing possession, got his shot blocked by Garay on the offensive end and then blocked White at the other end before the fateful technical.