Turnovers. It was that simple. And an excellent season was over.
A night plagued with sloppy passes — helped out by a cold third quarter — derailed Ridgeland-Hardeeville two steps short of a return trip to the Class 2-A state title game. Timberland forced the top-ranked Jaguars into 22 turnovers Wednesday night, notching a 62-54 victory at a packed and impassioned Estill High School gymnasium.
The Wolves (21-6) earned a trip to the Lower State final Saturday in Florence, where they will face either Dillon or Lee Central.
“We got outhustled tonight. We got outplayed,” Jaguars coach Jeremiah Faber conceded. “We were stagnant in our offense, we didn’t move the ball. A lot of turnovers.”
The Jaguars (21-4) had trouble with their perimeter ball movement all night, letting the Wolves consistently jump in for steals on nonchalant passes. Ridgeland-Hardeeville committed four turnovers in the first 90 seconds, setting the theme for the night, and finished the half with 14.
Despite all the miscues, the Jaguars were in control for the entire first half. They scored nine of the first 10 points, led 18-12 after the first quarter and remained on top 30-25 at halftime.
The third quarter, though, signaled a change of momentum. The turnovers slowed, but the Jaguars’ shooting went cold. They missed their first 10 shots of the second half, and Timberland eventually took its first lead of the game 2 1/2 minutes into the third quarter.
From there, it was a back-and-forth contest until the final minutes. Dailyn McKinney knocked down a 3-pointer for the Wolves with 4:15 to play, giving them a 48-43 lead that the Jaguars were never able to whittle down.
“Tonight, they wanted it just a little more than we did,” Faber said. “We were sloppy with the basketball tonight. We weren’t strong with the ball at all. We just didn’t have our best game tonight.
The Wolves committed six turnovers in the first quarter, but had just seven the rest of the way.
“Are they a better team than us? I don’t know, but they won the ballgame,” Faber said. “So that says a lot about them.”
McKinney finished with 17 points and had a key steal in the last 10 seconds to seal the win. Brycen Harris and Keyshawn Williams added 12 points for Timberland, and Waun’Ye Cox had seven points and nine rebounds.
Trai’von Anderson hit four 3-pointers among his 20 points for Ridgeland-Hardeeville, but was held to five points in the second half. Kam Waddy added 12 points and 10 rebounds, and Gaylus Bailey had 10 points and eight rebounds. Trenard Ferrell chipped in with eight points and nine rebounds.
Ferrell hit a 3-pointer to pull the Jaguars within three points in the final minute, but the comeback effort fell short.