Camden sweeps Chester, plus hoops scores and notes from Friday

By Tyler Cupp

Photo by Jack Crayne

It was a clean sweep for the Camden Bulldog basketball programs as the girls and boys both defeated the visiting Chester Cyclones Friday night. Both games were huge in region 4-3A play. For the boys, first place was on the line as both squads entered the night locked at 4-1 in conference play. The Bulldogs routed Chester 79-34 in this one.

Considering Chester won the first match up earlier in the year, some expected a closer game, but a veteran Bulldog team knew exactly what was on the line here. Coach Ron Mckie of Camden has been doing this a long time, over 20 years in fact, and even he knew this was a special performance. “I could tell by yesterday’s practice, we had one of the wildest and hardest practices that I’ve ever had.” Mckie said. ” I had to stop it because they were ready to almost fight each other.

They were chomping at the bit to play this game tonight.This was one of the best a Camden team has played since I’ve been here as a coach in a really long time.” The Bulldogs have a strong trio in Donavan Belton, Cam Jefferson and Devin Martin. If they get going, it’s hard to stop them if and when they get rolling. The trifecta had 17 of the teams 20 1st quarter points as Camden jumped out to a 20-6 lead. It was really in part due to the defense forcing turnovers, contesting shots and even thriving on big shots to build even more momentum. They out hustled Chester from the outset. The home team swished 9 three pointers with four of those coming from Devin Martin who finished with 20. Cam Jefferson who hit 3 more long range shots, led all scorers with 22.

“Yea Devin got on fire, Cam hit some big shots.” Mckie said.” All this gives us confidence. We got out there on defense and did some good things. Once we made some shots we got some more enthusiasm there on the other end and some fire too. We’re at home, we are supposed to shoot well.” The Bulldogs had to have shot a ridiculous percentage from the field. It seemed like they just couldn’t miss. The 79 points were a season high, and the most scored since earlier in the year when they tallied 75 against North Central. Some even thought it was the most scored in many years.

At halftime, this game was over at 37-12 but in the second half it allowed the bench players to get some time and work the offense a little more. Coach Mckie was adamant that there is still much work to be done with his team. And did not want the boys to get out of line in a blowout type scenario. “In a game like this I tell them you’re not out there to just get yours. We are still working our offense. You can’t just go out and shoot anything you want. I told them during a timeout that if you start playing by yourself, Im yanking you. We played together tonight.”
Camden would get a silent 12 points from Donavan Belton and 8 more from Junior Bryce Jeffcoat. The Bulldogs have 2 games left with a road trip to Indian land, then senior night at home against Fairfield Central. They control their own destiny, which means they can win the region with two more victories. A region title in basketball has not happened for Camden since they made it all the way and won the state championship back in the 2008-2009 season. Ron Mckie finished his interview by telling us what he told the team all week. “I told those seniors that this is what you’re set up to do. To play and stay in first place. To get some home games and win a region. I told them that they’ve worked their butts off, so go out there and take it. Just do it. Our seniors outplayed theirs tonight.”

As for the girls, the got the night started with an impressive performance of their own. The Camden Lady Bulldogs improved to 3-3 and 2nd place in the region with a 53-21 victory over Chester. It was the season sweep of Chester for Camden as they prevailed earlier this year 53-45. Again, another game here where the home team never trailed.

In fact, the Lady Bulldogs led 10-1 late in the first quarter. Camden coach Natalie Jeffcoat who is a former South Carolina Lady Gamecock, preaches good defense, and that’s exactly what she got Friday. From forcing turnovers, and staying active with their hands on defense, Camden was able to give its offense plenty of opportunities beating Chester out in transition. Unfortunately, the easy looks to the hoop did not translate into points, rather a 16-8 halftime lead. But it felt much larger than that. “We just talked about trying to play fast defensively, but we can’t really play as fast on offense.” Coach Jeffcoat said. “We just tried to slow down, and take care of the ball. We seemed to have a lot of easy looks in that first half but couldn’t buy a basket. We had to just slow down a little bit.” The girls would actually pick up the tempo by outscoring Chester 21-3 in the third quarter of play. They hit six quick field goals in the first two minutes of the second half. The Lady Bulldogs got a big lift from forward Venus Sumpter who had to play against two very tall girls in the paint. The six points scored were not near as big as her defenive stats, swatting balls and containing the bigs. Her coach, however, was very proud of her effort. “Venus did a good job and played so hard.” Jeffcoat said. ” She’s undersized and has to play in the post. Pretty much every night when she plays down low she ends up being out manned and undersized against her opponent. So she has a lot heart and gets after it.” What makes this Camden team so interesting is the fact that their top 2 scorers are underclassman. Freshman Imani Wyatt led all scorers with 14 while sophomore guard Tyianna Peterson chipped in with 9 points. All in all it was a great night for Camden basketball as both the girls and the boys have a chance to host home playoff games. Of course, that all depends on what happens next week, but they are setup in great position with 2 left to play.

Other scores and notes from Friday night. 

-Sticking with Kershaw County basketball, the Lugoff-Elgin Demon boys were off on Friday night but have two key games next week. They currently sit at 16-5 (3-3). They have already punched their ticket to the playoffs for the first time since 2009, but I’m interested to see how they finish the year. Depending on draw, LE is a team that could maybe make a run in the Lower State.

Lower Richland 46 AC Flora 44

Star forward Christian Brown returned to action from a concussion and led all scorers in points with 20 to defeat his former team in the Falcons. AC Flora (15-6, 6-1) however already took the region 5-4A crown and will be a 1 seed entering the postseason.  Lower Richland improved to 9-11 and 5-2 in region play.

Gray Collegiate 105 Fox Creek 60

The War Eagles stay unbeaten in region play with a big win over Fox Creek. The War Eagles had 3 in double figures and were led by junior standout Juwan Gary with 24 points. Gary was recently offered by South Carolina. He won the slam dunk contest at the Chick-Fil-A Classic(RNE) in December and is the 32nd ranked prospect on ESPN.

Ridge View 71 Richland Northeast 55

The Blazers are now 7-1 in their region. Javon Anderson had 19 points and 7 boards to lead RV. Wayln Napper had a nice game with 13 points, 6 assists and 6 boards.

In girls basketball……

Lexington defeated Blythewood 64-46. Olivia Thompson had 14 for the Lady Wildcats. She is now the all time leading scorer in Lady Wildcat history. And oh by the way, she’s only a junior.

Ridge View upset Richland Northeast 50-46. This win for the Lady Blazers puts Westwood back in first place over RNE.

Irmo over Midland Valley 38-28. Madison Dopico led the Lady Yellowjackets with 19 points.