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Lamar's A'Nyia Gates (center) celebrates the Silver Foxes' region championship by jumping into the arms of LaShelia Dolford, mother of the late Keyasia Sparks. Sparks played for Lamar, and she died two summers ago. Sparks would have been a senior on this year's team.

TIMMONSVILLE, S.C. — Keyasia Sparks scrapped and hustled to help build Lamar’s girls into the Region 2-A champions they became Thursday night.

After she died in July 2018, coach Randolph Scott’s team made sure she would be remembered.

That she would be cherished.

And that she would be a part of their celebration — somehow, someway.

And after coach Lamar won 55-51 against Timmonsville, it was Sparks’ mother, LaShelia Dolford, who joined the Silver Foxes in their on-court celebration. While Dolford wore Sparks’ No. 32 jersey, the players’ expressions said it all.

This was about a region championship — one for them.

And one for all, including Sparks.

“This is what you ask for when competing for a region championship,” said Scott, who also coached Lamar to region crowns in 2017 and ’14. “To come into a hostile environment and give them your best punch and then take their best punch. And then at the end of the day, to come out victorious, that makes tonight an awesome night.”

After Lamar rallied to get within 30-28 at first half’s end, the Silver Foxes took command in the second with a 12-1 run. After a putback by Lamar’s Dea’Quashia Robinson gave her team a 32-30 lead, Scott’s team was off and running its lead to 40-31.

The Whirlwinds, however, got back in contention. After trailing 46-44 at third quarter’s end, Timmonsville reclaimed the lead at 49-46 with a 3-pointer by Kelvionna Hudson. But Lamar’s A’Niya Gates answered with a 3-pointer of her own to tie it back up.

Layups by Robinson and Ja’Shyia Ham, however, gave Lamar the lead for good at 53-49 that was part of a 19-7 Silver Fox fourth quarter.

Although the resilient Whirlwinds got within 53-51, two free throws by Robinson put the game away.

And none other than Gates was there to hug Robinson after her first successful free throw. And not long after the game was over, Gates leaped into Dolford’s arms for a special hug of their own.

Ham led Lamar with 23 points, followed by Robinson with 17. Makyla Commander, meanwhile, led Timmonsville with 23 points, followed by Hudson with 17.

L 11 19 16 19 — 55

T 15 13 16 7 — 51

TIMMONSVILLE (51)

Makyla Commander 23, Echols 2, Kelvionna Hudson 17, Graham 6, Samuel 3

LAMAR (55)

Stephen 2, Dea’Quashia Robinson 17, Gates 7, Ja’Shyia Ham 23, Hodges 6.

Prep Sports Writer

An eight-time APSE national award winner, Scott recently authored his first book,"70 Years of Thrills and Chills, Drama and Dents at Darlington Raceway." In college, Scott played on a tennis scholarship,

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