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Southside repeats as Class AAA boys champion after dispatching Ridgeland-Hardeeville, 74-58

COLUMBIASouthside started the season ranked No. 1 in Class AAA, and Saturday afternoon at Colonial Life Arena, they ended the year on top as well.  The Tigers defeated Lower state champion Ridgeland-Hardeeville, 74-58, and earned their second consecutive boys title.

“We had some good players coming back so I wasn’t concerned about the target on our back (at the beginning of the season),” said Southside head coach Steve Beasley.  “I was concerned with their mindset and willingness to work without getting too big-headed.  They were fairly grounded the whole season.  They enjoyed the game and tried to get better.”

Four starters ended the game in double figures for Southside, led by forward R.J. Campbell’s 20 points and eight rebounds.  Center Jamal Burke notched a double-double with 15 points, 21 rebounds and four blocks. 

“Rebounding-wise, we hurt them on the boards.  That was a big factor,” Beasley said.

Devin Butler paced Ridgeland-Hardeeville with 20 points and six boards.  His younger brother, Rashamel Butler, added 14 points before fouling out in the fourth quarter.

“I thought we had a legitimate chance of taking this championship back to the Lowcountry,” Ridgeland-Hardeeville head coach Jeremiah Faber said.  “Better days are in front of us.  We’re a little disappointed, but we’ll be back here next year, and hopefully we can win it all.”

The teams played even for the opening four minutes of the game before Southside grabbed the momentum.  The Tigers went on a 9-1 run, capped by a three-pointer by Jayden Shell, to take a 13-5 lead. 

Ridgeland-Hardeeville (23-2) pulled within 14-9 on a pair of free throws by De’Monta Pusha, but a free throw and a layup by Campbell in the final nine seconds pushed the Tigers ahead by eight points at the end of the first quarter.

Southside started to pour it on in the second period, getting out in transition for some easy baskets.  The Tigers used an 11-2 spurt to increase the margin into double figures, and a layup by Burke gave Southside its biggest lead of the half at 34-16.

“We were a little big out of synch, defensively and offensively.  There was not a lot of movement on offense and slow rotation on the defense.  That allowed them to develop that lead and that placed us behind the 8-ball the entire game,” Faber said.

The Jaguars fought back just before halftime, getting back-to-back buckets from Jertaveon Smalls and Pusha in the final minute to cut the deficit to 36-22 at the break.  Ridgeland-Hardeeville could have closed the gap even more, but went just 8-of-14 at the foul line in the first half.

Devin Butler tried to single-handedly bring the Jaguars back in the third quarter, scoring 14 of the team’s 18 points in the period.  Twice Ridgeland-Hardeeville got the margin down to eight points, but couldn’t get any closer.

“The kids tried.  We were right there, but sometimes it’s hard to overcome a 14-point deficit when you’re playing against size,” Faber said.  “We did what we wanted to do and got their point guard off the floor, but their two post players really stepped up and played great for them.  That was the difference in the game.”

Southside clinched the game at the foul line in the fourth quarter.  After Devin Butler’s layup made it 53-45 with 6:24 to play, the Tigers scored 12 of their final 21 points at the charity stripe.  They were 17-for-21 on free throws in the second half.

“We’ve got some pretty good free throw shooters,” said Beasley.  “We’ve got a number of free throw games they play, and they don’t like to run if they lose.  They’re motivated to hit them.”



Southside              17           19           13           25—74

Ridge.-Hard.         9              13           18           18—58

Southside (74): R.J. Campbell 20, Jamal Burke 15, Jayden Shell 12, Jalon Calhoun 11, Canada 9, Brock 4, McKelvey 3.

Ridgeland-Hardeeville (58): Devin Butler 20, Rashamel Butler 14, Pusha 9, Williams 6, Westbrook 5, Robinson 2, Smalls 2.

© 2017 High School Sports Report

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