Lexington basketball teams fall in Lower State finals

A disappointed Lexington High School senior guard Olivia Thompson walks off the Florence Civic Center court. She will play for the University of South Carolina next season. Thomas Grant Jr. photos.

Both Lexington High School basketball teams saw their state championship dreams end Saturday at the Florence Civic Center.

The Lady Wildcats were defeated 43-28 by Goose Creek in the Class 5A Lower State final.

The loss snapped an 11-game winning streak and ended the high school careers of eight seniors, led by guard Olivia Thompson.

The University of South Carolina-bound Thompson scored a game-high 18 points to finish with a school-record of 1,934 career points. Foul trouble and the physical play of the Lady Gators limited the offensive effectiveness of her teammates.

Lexington trailed 10-8 at the end of the 1st quarter. It was the lowest deficit of the contest against Goose Creek (22-1), who looked to redeem itself from last year’s Lower State final to eventual state champion Spring Valley. Outscoring the Lady Wildcats 14-4 in the second quarter, the Lady Gators led a 24-12 halftime lead.

Lexington cut the deficit to within 10, but Goose Creek managed to extend its lead as many as 18 points. Aniya Oliver led the Lady Gators with 15 points and Ciera Adams added 10.

The win sets up a rematch against the Lady Vikings, this time in the Class 5A state final Friday at Colonial Life Arena. Meanwhile, the Lady Wildcats finished 24-5, but were rewarded with a standing ovation from its fans in attendance.

This was followed by the Wildcats suffering their first loss of the season in a 47-42 defeat to Berkeley in the boys’ Lower State final.

The setback also marked the final game for head coach Bailey Harris. He announced two days earlier plans to retire after 32 seasons.

Lexington guard Mason Carver drives to the basket against Berkeley.

“I don’t think I’ve ever ended a season without crying my eyes out… for the seniors,” Harris said. “I’m a senior this time, too. I just told them I don’t know if I could have gone out, pick 14 guys from all over the state that I would rather go to war with than that bunch right there. They were outmanned in about every spot, gave up a lot of offensive rebounds inside. But it didn’t because we didn’t battle or fight for it. We just couldn’t contain them in there. They’re where they are for a reason.”

It was a contest which saw the Stags (26-1) use its size advantage in the paint to capitalize for several offensive rebounds for key points.

Senior 6-7 center Ishan White led Berkeley with a game-high 22 points despite getting double and triple-teamed by the Wildcats. Down the stretch, when Lexington erased a seven point deficit to tie the contest, he slam dunked four straight points off assists from Solomon White in the final three minutes to push the Stags’ lead to five.

The last second shots seen throughout the season by senior Mason Carver, who finished with 17 points, and Bradley Foulks, who added 11, did not fall for Lexington.

The Wildcats (29-1) scored the first four points of the contest and lead 10-4 in the first quarter. They would hold a 14-12 advantage going into the second quarter and withstood an early second-quarter spurt by the Stags to take a 25-21 lead after consecutive three-pointers by Will Edwards.

A 6-0 run to end the third quarter put Berkeley ahead 27-25 at halftime. The Stags never trailed the rest of the game and earned its 1st ever state final appearance.

The opponent this Friday at Colonial Life Arena is two-time defending Class 5A champion Dorman, coached by former Wildcat Thomas Ryan.

Categories: Lexington, Lexington County, Sports