AIKEN -- The way Aiken High School's girls basketball team started its playoff opener against Beaufort High School on Tuesday, predicting an 18-point victory for the Hornets would not have seemed a wise choice.
Thanks in large part to sophomore Monique Tyler, though, that is exactly what happened, with Aiken advancing to the second round of the Class 4-A playoffs with a 63-45 win.
Tyler and senior Kashonda Henderson, who scored 14 points, helped Aiken (14-11) rebound from a rough start. The Hornets missed their first five field goals, as Beaufort High (13-11) jumped out to a 9-0 lead and led 15-8 after the first quarter.
With Aiken still trailing, sophomore guard and leading scorer Erin Gilmore suffered an ankle injury and had to leave the game.
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During the second quarter, Tyler and company starting turning the game around, with the sophomore scoring nine points in the period.
The last three of those points tied the game going into the half in a frustrating way for the Eagles.
With a minute remaining in the first half and the lead down to three points for the visitors, Beaufort High interim coach Elaine Senn was called for a technical foul. Tyler made one of the two resulting free throws and then scored in the paint on the ensuing possession to tie the game at 29.
Senn said what brought Aiken back into the game was a breakdown in the Eagles' defensive set.
"I think what basically happened is the girls broke down our press," Senn said.
Aiken opened the second half with a 10-0 run during the first four minutes of the third quarter. The Hornets did not look back from there, leading by nine at the end of the third period.
In the fourth quarter, sophomore Hanna Williams scored seven of her 14 points to help ice the game for the Hornets.
Ebony Watson and Mykalah Smalls led the Eagles with 10 points each.
Aiken will travel to play Goose Creek in the second round Friday.
As for the Eagles, Senn said she has a crowd of players returning for next season.
"We have juniors coming back that have been playing together for years, and we're going to try to build on that," Senn said.
AIKEN (14-11) -- Monique Tyler 19, Hanna Williams 14, Kashonda Henderson 14, Erin Gilmore 6, Kinsley Hall 6, Ashley Winfield 2, Alexis Odom 2.
BEAUFORT HIGH (13-11) -- Ebony Watson 10, Mykalah Smalls 10, Jakayla Shaw 8, Arielle McPhee 8, Emani Gray 3, Paris Smith 2, Shaquana Hughe 2, Veneshia Holmes 2.