COLUMBIA, S.C. – The second-ranked Mullins girls’ youth movement took a quantum leap, returning their program to the Class 2A final they won last year.
But a senior-laden Keenan squad took control in the first quarter and never looked back for a 51-28 win today at Colonial Life Arena.
Coach Myron Gerald’s Auctioneers finish the year 17-3.
“I’m most definitely proud,” Gerald said. “I’m glad we can keep young players in our program and keep them interested. That makes them even hungrier.”
Despite losing last year’s stars, Brittani McDonald and Serenity Hunt, to graduation, Gerald worked another impressive coaching performance by leading a starting lineup with one senior (Za'Kiya Williams) back to the brink of a title. The four Mullins returning starters for next year are junior Janell Sindab, freshman Jen’Lea Nichols, and sophomores Kamira James and Tamiesha Lasane.
Fourth-ranked Keenan, however, started four seniors and a sophomore. And after losing in the third round of last year’s state tourney to eventual runner-up Christ Church, the Raiders brought an abundance of intensity to the hardwood.
“We never kind of adjusted to the tempo,” said Gerald, whose team committed 36 turnovers, which led to 27 Raider points. “We were playing from behind all night.”
After the Auctioneers took their only lead, 1-0, on a free throw by Williams with 6:34 left in the first quarter, the Raiders responded with a 9-0 run.
At halftime, Kennan led 27-15.
And, 37-19 after the third quarter.
When Mullins had a chance for a layup, there was a Raider attempting to block it or make the dribbler’s path so uncomfortable that the attempt fell way off the mark.
But Keenan push the ball upcourt and create layups. And when the Auctioners denied that, the Raiders would attempt a 3-pointer – which one of their seniors, Jadiamond Hickman, made on back-to-back attempts in the first half.
“That’s one of the things I saw on film,” Gerald said. “Anybody could throw it up and shoot as well. It was not anything different from what we saw on film. It was more of the same.”
The only Mullins player in double figures was Nichols with 13 points and 12 rebounds.
Hickman, meanwhile, led Keenan with 18 points, followed by Logan Taylor- McDaniel with 12 points and nine rebounds.
Now, the six-time state champion Auctioneers look to next year – and possibly, return trip to yet another final.
“That’s going to be some motivation for us,” Gerald said. “It’s definitely something to build on.”
K 12 15 10 14 -- 51
M 3 12 4 9 – 28
Taylor 5, Hammonds 7, Jadiamond Hickman 18, Jones 3, Logan Taylor-McDaniel 12, Fulwiley 5, Haigler 1.
Williams 7, Jones 2, Jen’Lea Nichols 13, Lasane 2, Davis 4.
RECORDS: K 19-7, M 17-3.