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North Augusta goes back-to-back in Class AAAA girls with 52-34 win over Wilson

COLUMBIA—In the immortal words of Yogi Berra, “It was déjà vu all over again” in the Class AAAA girls state championship game Saturday evening at Colonial Life Arena.  North Augusta handled Wilson for the second straight year, this time 52-34, and ended the campaign with a 26-1 record.

“It feels great,” said North Augusta head coach Crystal Cummings.  “Just like last year, I’m super proud of their effort and their energy.  It’s all about the girls.  They did it.  We pushed them to the limit in back in practice and they took all the constructive criticism we gave them and turned it into a repeat.”

Amari Young led the Yellow Jackets with 13 points, 17 rebounds and 4 steals.  Wilson was paced by Loyal McQueen, who was the only Tiger in double figures with 10 points.

“I’m extremely proud of them.  They fought hard and gave it their all,” Wilson head coach Jessica Gerald said.  “It was a pretty good season.  A lot of people didn’t think that they would come out and be back at the state championship, but they proved them wrong.  Overall, I think it was a great season and a great run.”

Trailing 22-18 at the half, McQueen opened the third quarter with a layup to get the Tigers within two.  Tyliah Burns answered with a basket for North Augusta before McQueen was true on a pair of free throws to make it 24-22.

The Yellow Jackets picked up the pace from that moment forward.  Kiana Lee had back-to-back buckets that started an 11-3 run to close the period and push the North Augusta lead to double digits at 35-25.

“One of the coaches in the locker room said that basketball is a game of runs,” said Cummings.  “We went on a run, they went on a run.  The second half – we came out like the score was 0-0.  If we win two quarters, we’ll be champions.  That’s what they did.”

D’Asia Gregg got Wilson back to within eight on a floater to begin the final quarter, but the Yellow Jackets followed with a 9-2 spurt to push its advantage to 44-29 and essentially put the game out of reach.

Both teams struggled offensively in the first half.  Leading 5-4 midway through the opening stanza, North Augusta scored nine unanswered points in the last four minutes to take a 14-4 advantage. 

The Yellow Jackets padded the margin early in the second quarter, getting five points from J’Mani Ingram and another from Young to move ahead, 20-7.

“We preach, ‘Defense wins championships,’ and if we can’t score, the only thing we can do is defend and not have them score,” said Cummings.  “Our shots will start falling if we stick with the game plan.  We had too many turnovers in the first half, but we were able to refocus them in the second half and get it done on the defensive end.”

Wilson (21-3) didn’t give up, however, storming back late in the period to get within striking distance.  Avahna Baker had a layup and a free throw, and after Lee countered with a basket for North Augusta, the Tigers went on an 8-0 run to get within four points at the intermission.  McQueen capped the scoring by draining a 25-foot three-pointer.

“I liked the way we didn’t quit.  They kept fighting to get the game closer,” said Gerald.

 

SCORING SUMMARY

N. Augusta            14           8              13           17—52

Wilson High          4              14           7              9—34

North Augusta (52): Amari Young 13, Crews 9, Bell 8, Lee 6, Ingram 5, T. Burns 5, M. Burns 4, Lewis 2.

Wilson (34): Loyal McQueen 10, Gregg 9, Nowlin 9, Baker 6.
















































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