Lady Jackets stifle Seahawks to reach third straight state title game
No. 1 NORTH AUGUSTA 44, No. 7 MYRTLE BEACH 26
FLORENCE — Friday night brought the North Augusta girls’ basketball team another brightly-lit arena, another big crowd, another championship stage.
And the top-ranked Lady Jackets treated it like just another business trip.
North Augusta overcame a sluggish start for a 44-26 win over No. 7 Myrtle Beach in the Class AAAA Lower State title game, and the Lady Jackets will play fifth-ranked South Pointe at 5:30 p.m. next Saturday at Columbia’s Colonial Life Arena for a shot at their third consecutive state championship.
“I just think it’s history for us, for sure. I always talk to the girls about they’re trying to create some legacy,” said North Augusta head coach Al Young. “Hopefully they’ll be able to do that. I know when they look back on this the next 10, 15, 20 years, they’ll realize what a great job they’ve done.”
The Seahawks (20-7) brought plenty of fight and defensive grit, as they did throughout their playoff run, and made it a rough-and-tumble semifinal. But North Augusta, as it has throughout the better part of the last four seasons, just had more fight than the opposition.
“I think that’s what our girls have been about all year. They are some fighters,” Young said. “I tell them before games, I’ll go anywhere with them. They’re my girls, and I’ll go fight with them anytime. I know, deep down inside, they’ve got something there that you just can’t teach. I’m just so proud of them. They’ll fight through almost anything.”
Tyliah Burns scored a game-high 17 points to lead North Augusta (24-2), and J’Mani Ingram had 12. The duo combined for 16 of the Lady Jackets’ 18 points in the second quarter, which they opened on a 13-0 run to break an 8-all tie. They led by double digits the rest of the way.
Burns started the quarter with back-to-back 3-pointers, then added an old-fashioned three-point play for a personal 9-0 run, and those baskets seemed to provide a spark to a North Augusta offense that couldn’t get much to drop in the first quarter.
North Augusta carried a 26-14 lead into the locker room at halftime, then held Myrtle Beach to just 12 points in the second half.
The Seahawks showed early they weren’t going to back down, going on a 6-0 run for a 6-3 lead with around 2 minutes left in the first quarter. But the Lady Jackets closed the period with a Mya Burns bucket and an Aaliyah Bell 3, and then they were off and running.
The victory continues a three-year-long win streak against in-state teams that started after they lost to Sumter in overtime in the Lower State title game in 2016. Friday was a chance for the seniors to earn a measure of revenge in their return trip to the Florence Center – the Lady Jackets were Upper State champions the last two seasons before realignment moved them back to the Lower State.
“Well, I didn’t say anything about that at all. I didn’t even want to bring it up,” Young said with a smile. “But I’m sure they thought about it, and I’m so glad they were able to come back and have that revenge and be able to win here.”