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Hemingway boys take second straight Class A title, 71-59, over Ridge Spring-Monetta (with photo gallery)

COLUMBIAHemingway continued its reign over the Class A competition, going back-to-back to win its second consecutive state championship Saturday afternoon at Colonial Life Arena.  The Tigers led wire-to-wire in defeating Upper state representative Ridge Spring-Monetta, 71-59.

“This is awesome.  When you decide to get into coaching, this is something you dream about,” said Hemingway head coach Emmanuel Dewalt, who was hired last summer.  “To be able to walk in here my first year and inherit a very great program, one with great tradition and a bunch of guys back from last year’s team, it’s just a great feeling.”

Center JuJu Williams recorded a double-double for the Tigers with 21 points and 14 rebounds while point guard Darius Taylor added 16 points, six assists and five rebounds.  Taylor constantly penetrated the Trojans defense and created chances around the basket.  Hemingway scored 52 points in the paint.

“He’s amazing.  All year long, it’s been that way.  He’s one of those guys that it’s very difficult to stay in front of,” Dewalt said of Taylor.  “He’s been able to create opportunities for other guys, and that’s why he’s had so many assists to our bigs, who catch and finish in the paint.”

Jerry Tyler had a team-high 20 points and five assists for Ridge Sping-Monetta, and Melvin Alewine had a solid performance inside with 16 points and 12 rebounds.  Johnnie Freeman was also in double figures for the Trojans with 11.

“It was great for us to be able to play for a state title,” said Ridge Spring-Monetta head coach Mark Wright.  “It was a long road for us.  Sometimes we had to play four or five games in a week to get here.  I’m proud of my guys.  They did an excellent job and left it out on the court.  That’s basketball.  Somebody’s got to win and somebody’s got to lose.”

Taylor got Hemingway going with a three-pointer in the opening minute, and the Tigers continued to gain momentum as they raced to a 9-2 advantage.  Ridge Spring-Monetta cut the lead to 15-14 on a layup by Tyson Bettis, but Hemingway’s Dashaquavius Cooper tipped in a missed shot to give the defending champions a three point margin after eight minutes.

The Tigers continued to keep the Trojans at arm’s length in the second period.  A free throw by Taylor gave Hemingway its largest lead of the first half at 30-22, but Ridge Spring-Monetta clawed back in the final two minutes of the frame.  Alewine put back an offensive rebound, and Tyler added a basket with six seconds remaining to get the Trojans within 32-28 at the break.

Ridge Spring-Monetta got as close as they had been since the first quarter when Alewine began the second half with a bucket.  However, Hemingway showed why it had played for three straight Class A titles by answering with a 10-2 run over the next 3:20.

Freeman made it a two-possession game again with a shot from long range that closed the gap to 48-42, but the Trojans never got closer the rest of the way.  The Tigers went on a 9-3 spurt to extend the lead to 12 points at the end of the third quarter.

“It was tough at times,” Wright said.  “We give Hemingway all the credit.  They might have picked up that we’re a third quarter team.  Every time we made a move, they countered.”

The fourth quarter was just a formality at that point, as Hemingway continued to get in the paint and convert easy baskets.  A dunk by Jaquan Julius had the crowd on its feet and put the Tigers ahead, 64-48, and Williams added the exclamation point with another dunk in the final minute.

“All year long, we’ve been that kind of team.  We feel our way through the first half and then the guys buckle down and go get it.  I relied heavily on that group that has taken us here all year.  I’m so happy for them,” Dewalt said.



RS-Monetta          14           14           17           14—59

Hemingway          17           15           25           14—71

Ridge Spring-Monetta (59): Jerry Tyler 20, Melvin Alewine 16, Johnnie Freeman 11, Bettis 8, Frazier 2, Robinson 2.

Hemingway (71): JuJu Williams 21, Darius Taylor 16, Jaquan Julius 12, Cooper 9, Singletary 6, T. Lewis 5, Parker 2.

© 2017 High School Sports Report

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