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Hilton Head Christian three-peats as SCISA Class AA state champion

By David Shelton

Senior Writer

Sumter – For the third consecutive season, the Hilton Head Christian girls basketball team proved to be the very best in the SCISA Class AA ranks.

The Eagles capped a 25-1 season with a convincing 48-32 win over Palmetto Christian Academy in the AA state title game at the Sumter Civic Center.

“To hold them to basically seven points in the second half, just a great effort,” Hilton Head Christian coach Kenny Conroy said. “We know our defense is what makes us win. We know our offense is what gets us to our defense so we have to score to get into the defense. We got them in some foul trouble and that was the key to the game. We knew if we penetrated into the paint, we were going to get fouled. That was part of the game plan, to take it to them.”

Senior forward Dior Shelton closed out her career in style, scoring 17 points in the win. Sophomore forward Abby Peduzzi added 11.

Foul trouble became an issue early for Palmetto Christian. Freshman guard Yannah Seaberry picked up two quick fouls but managed to score 18 points, hitting five 3-pointers.

Palmetto Christian’s best player, forward Katelyn Howard, picked up her third foul in the first minute of the second quarter and sat out the remaining seven minutes. Cokey Suddeth had eight points for Palmetto Christian while Howard was limited to five.

Hilton Head Christian took full advantage of the foul trouble, breaking a 13-13 tie with a 16-8 run, leading to a 29-21 halftime advantage.

“Coach told us before the game that defense was going to win this so we focused really hard on stopping what they do best,” Peduzzi said.

Hilton Head Christian tightened the defense in the third quarter, yielding only two points while building a 41-23 lead heading into the fourth quarter. The lead grew to 20 at 46-26 with 6:25 to play and the end was never in doubt.

“They were a good team. They got in some foul trouble and a lot of things sort of went our way. We executed really well today but the defense was the key.”

Shelton was pleased to finish her career with another championship.

“It feels good, especially since I’m leaving, but it feels good to accomplish our goal,” Shelton said. “It’s just amazing. I am happy that I was able to share this moment with my teammates. I am so proud of everyone. We have been pushing each other really hard in practice. It’s hard to get here so I am really proud that we made it.”

Hilton Head Christian is 75-6 over the current three-year run. The Eagles have not lost a region game in five years. Conroy credits his team’s willingness to go the extra mile every year.

“These girls really stepped up,” Conroy said. “They gave up their Thanksgiving and their Christmas to play in tournaments to get to this point. We didn’t back down from anyone. We played all the teams that would play us. In the long run, we knew that if we played our game, it would be difficult for anyone to beat us.

“We have a good group of young kids and they’re going to be special players. This team, in particular, had a great chemistry. This team was very unselfish and always came to work hard. We’ve been able to build a great culture in the program and people want to play in our program.”

As special as a three-peat is, Conroy already is thinking of next year and a chance to win four in a row.

“It’s not as important as four is going to be,” the coach said. “I told them afterwards, anyone can get three, let’s see if we can get four. I said it last year after we won two. It’s special for us.”

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