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Anderson Christian Places Five Players In Double Figures To Defeat Newberry Academy 79-61 To Win The SCISA Class A Boy's Basketball Title

Anderson Christian Places Five Players In Double Figures To Defeat Newberry Academy 79-61 To Win The SCISA Class A Boy's Basketball Title 

By Billy G. Baker


Columbia—No SCISA team in South Carolina beat Anderson Christian (19-5) this season and with five talented senior starters they defeated Newberry Academy (20-5),  79-61 to win the Class A boy’s title for the second time in four years at Heathwood Hall on February, 26.

“This state championship is really special to this team, our fans and myself,” said head coach Josh Brown who was a member of the HSSR all-state baseball team out of Westside High in 1992.  “Four years ago, we won with my other son (Mason) starting at point guard and he is on the bench coaching with me now. Then my other son (Hudson) is a senior at point guard starting tonight and we won another state title so this one means a lot also.

“Our guys came into the game very confident tonight but we had a lot of respect for Payton and Tony and we knew they were very good and we focused our defense on those two,” said Coach Brown. “We respect them and we respect Scott as a coach.

“We like to play fast and we like to score in the 80’s and they like to play defense and keep the score in the 40’s so we knew we had to play fast and, in the end, we usually win by just have superior athletic ability team wise,” said Coach Brown.  “We have seven seniors on the team, start five seniors, and we are going to miss all of them. This was a huge championship for our program.”  

Anderson Christian’s five losses this season came against larger public high schools and that type of competition prepared them well for a playoff run that led to a state championship.

Newberry Academy head coach Scott Gardner was hoarse after the game but proud of his team’s outstanding season. “We finished 20-5, beat two number one seeds to get to the finals and then played the over-all number one seed in Anderson Christian so I am very proud of what this team has accomplished.

“They made 12 three-point shots tonight and we simply could not sustain a talented team like they are having a good night shooting,” said Coach Gardner. “I remember four years ago we played Anderson Christian in the finals and we got blown out with two freshman guards starting (Payton Gardner and Anthony McLean) but tonight they and the rest of the team showed that we could play with them and I am very proud of the entire team.  Number 22 and number 42 had awesome games tonight.

“We are going to miss Anthony and Payton and they have invested a lot in our program,” said Coach Gardner. “Payton has been on the team since the 8th grade and he and Anthony have been very committed and dedicated players for us throughout their careers.

“I am proud of all guys tonight,” said Coach Gardner. “We have a great program here at Newberry Academy. We do not get many players to transfer in. Most of our guys start in our program as 8th and 9th graders like. Tony and Payton, and keep improving from year-to-year like they did. We have now played for a state title seven times in my 25 years with the program and fortunately we have won three times and unfortunately, we have lost four times. Still, I am proud of my guys for getting here and how they proved they could compete against a very talented opponent tonight.”

Gardner, an outstanding 6-4 left- handed pitcher headed to the next level in baseball, led the Eagles in scoring with 33 points, 11 rebounds, three blocked shots and two assists. Gardner came very close to scoring 2,000 points in his five-year varsity career. McLean had 17 points and played excellent defense. Other contributing starters for Newberry Academy were junior guard Evan Graves, sophomore guard Ryan Brown and defensive specialist William Buford.

Anderson Christian led 21-7 after the opening period as they ran up and down the court like a junior version of the Harlem Globetrotters. By the half they had extended their lead to 44-25 and AC took a 58-39 lead into the final quarter.

Anderson Christian placed five players in double figures which is difficult for most teams to do. Senior Bray Greer had a couple dunks during the game and led his team in scoring with 18 points.  Myles Ulmer had 17 followed by Xavier Thornton with 16 and Mark Jackson and Braxton Allmon each had 14 points each.      

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