FLORENCE – For the second night in a row, Hartsville High School managed to rally in the Little Caesars Invitational.
Friday’s comeback was a little more dramatic – and a little more rewarding at the end.
A 10-2 run late in the second half of the championship game against South Florence helped give the Red Foxes just their second lead of the night. They made it stand up – holding off a late charge by the Bruins for a 48-47 victory and the tourney title.
“I’m proud of the girls for their ability to just find a way to grind one out,” HHS coach Justin Johnson said. “Because that’s something we’re going to have to do a lot this year.
“Give a lot of credit to South Florence because they really bottled us up the first half and had a great game plan. We weren’t really running our sets and just settled for the jumper.”
SFHS led 22-18 at the break, and Johnson emphasized going to the post during his halftime talk. The move paid immediate dividends.
“We got a post presence in the second half and that was probably the difference in the game,” Johnson said. “We established that and we were able to play inside out. We’ve got to play that way. We can’t establish the jumper first and then get the post going.”
The Bruins cut the deficit to 47-44 on ShyKiera Brown’s 3-pointer, but the Red Foxes made enough free throws down the stretch to hold them off, despite another late long ball from Brown.
“We’re learning – and we’re making strides,” said South coach Jeff Bley, whose squad was down a few players for various reasons and lost Albany Wilson in the second half due to foul trouble. “We’re growing. We had other players step up tonight and in the tournament, but we just weren’t able to pull it out at the end.
“We’re not going to make any excuses – it’s just something we have to learn from.”
Hartsville’s TeAsia McPhail wound up with 11 points and was named tournament MVP. TT Dawson led the Red Foxes with 12 points and Kindan Dawson followed with nine. DaQuashia Robinson led the team with eight rebounds.
Kindan and Jazolyn Pendergrass were also named to the all-tournament team.
“(McPhail) is one of two seniors on this team, so it was big for us to have a senior step up in the moment (at the end) and get it done for us,” Johnson said. “We’re going to need that from her down the stretch. But I’m proud of her and the job she’s done the last few nights.”
The Bruins had two players make the all-tournament team in Brown and Lashanti Evans. Each finished with 14 points and Brown also had eight rebounds. Wilson had nine before fouling out with 3:25 remaining.
H 18 30 -- 48
SF 22 25 -- 47
TT Dawson 12, TeAsia McPhail 11, K. Dawson 9, Pendergrass 4, Thomas 4, Sutton 3, Robinson 2.
SOUTH FLORENCE (47)
Lashanti Evans 14, ShyKiera Brown 14, Wilson 9, Snow 6, Holland 2, Jones 2.
RECORDS: HHS 4-4, SF 3-6
NEXT GAMES: Hartsville will face Blythewood in the District 9 tournament on Dec. 27. South Florence will face Lake City on Jan. 2.