MULLINS -- Pee Dee Academy basketball is no stranger to the playoffs or the big stage. For the tenth straight season, the Lady Golden Eagles advanced to the State Playoffs in Sumter as their region's top two seed. The respect success at the Sumter Exhibition Center is well known. Three state championship rings in eight seasons speak for themselves.
Round one of this year's run for the title pitted Pee Dee against the Cavaliers of Calhoun. They, too, are no strangers to the big stage. Led by a seasoned coach and 1,000-point scorer Jessica Lyons, they carried an 11-10 mark into the playoff game versus the 17-2 Golden Eagles.
It seemed to be a mismatch on paper, but the Cavs came out and stunned Pee Dee early as Lyons scored from the inside and Rachel Mangum hit a baseline jumper for a 4-0 lead.
Pee Dee coach, Jerry Coleman, called a time out and his team responded with a 15-2 run. C.C. Causey scored in the next possession and three free throws earned the Golden Eagles their first lead at 5-4.
Heather Gibson turned a Calhoun miscue into a hoop just before the first quarter buzzer for a 7-4 Pee Dee lead after one quarter.
The run continued into the second quarter. Taylor Williams and Katelyn Browne added free throws for a 10-6 lead. Then, Williams took a pretty feed from Gibson in for two points and Jeffre Rogers nailed a jumper.
Up 15-6, the Golden Eagles seemed ready to coast to the win but back came a pesky Calhoun squad. Jessica Barron and Ashley Spiers found the hoop to cut the lead to five. Williams scored a bucket to stem the tide, but Lyons would go 4-for-4 from the charity stripe in the final minute of the half. Pee Dee led only 17-14 at intermission.
As the second half began, the Golden Eagles came out the aggressor again as Browne scored on a second offensive rebound and two free throws for a 21-14 advantage. Again, back came Calhoun as Lyons and Mangum scored to close the deficit to three points.
Browne hit a free throw, but Lyons took the inbounds, drove straight down the floor and scored a leaner and the foul to cut the lead to two.
The lead got down to one just point before the end of the third quarter, but Williams nailed a foul line jumper for Pee Dee with seven seconds left and the lead was three points again as they headed to the final eight minutes.
The Golden Eagles had to come out with a championship performance in the fourth or risk watching their dream go down the drain in the first round. Like the champions they are, they responded.
Causey nailed a 17-footer to start the final quarter and Browne scored off a feed from Rogers. Lyons attempted to keep her team in it as she nailed a pull-up jumper, but Pee Dee proved to be too much in the end.
Williams scored three points from the line, Causey got a lay-in off of a steal and then after the defense forced a ten second violation, Rogers nailed another deep jumper.
The 42-31 final advanced Pee Dee to the second round for the third consecutive year and for the eighth time in the last ten seasons.
Browne led the way with 15 points, hitting 11 of 14 from the foul line. Williams also hit double digits with 14 points, scoring eight from the line as well.
The win moves the Golden Eagles to 18-2 overall on the year and they were to face Richard Winn of Winnsboro in the second round on Monday. Further games will depend upon a Pee Dee victory with the semifinal scheduled for Thursday and the state championship Saturday. All games will be held in the Sumter Exhibition Center.