There was no panic on the faces of the South Pointe boys and their coaches after seeing what was once an 18-point lead disappear with a furious third-quarter rally from T.L. Hanna, which actually seized a five-point lead.
Hanna, ranked fifth, grabbed momentum after erasing a 14-point halftime deficit by reeling off 15 unanswered points for that five-point lead in the second round of the Class-AAAA state playoffs Friday at the South Pointe gymnasium.
But having had to rally from second-half deficits five of the last six games, South Pointe once again proved resilient and bounced back for a 60-53 home victory.
We just had to get (defensive) stops, South Pointe center P.J. Heath said about the fourth-quarter comeback. Our offense comes from our defense. So what we talked about was stepping it up defensively.
Indeed, the Stallions defense made the difference, limiting the Yellow Jackets to only three fourth-quarter field goals.
Guard Quinn Martin drove through the lane for a hoop and a 50-44 Yellow Jackets lead early in the fourth. But the Stallions began to use their athleticism and interior tenacity to find an offensive flow.
Heath, who finished with 25 points, powered inside for a score, and forward Isiah Rodney snatched an offensive rebound and scored on a put back, cutting the deficit to two.
After forcing a turnover, the Stallions tied the score and took the lead when Rodney completed a traditional three-point play while being fouled during a power move on the inside He sank the free throw for a 51-50 South Pointe lead with 5:00 remaining.
On the next Stallions possession, Devin Pearson sank a free throw; however Martin provided an answer with a drive and lay-in for the Yellow Jackets, who tied the score, 52-52, at the 3:38 mark.
South Pointe, however, regained the lead when Anthony Johnson drove the lane for an acrobatic layup while being fouled. He missed the free throw, keeping the Stallions ahead by two, 54-52.
Hanna pulled to within one when Haissan Handy converted one of two foul shots with 2:02 remaining.
On the next possession, the Stallions held the ball to pull the Yellow Jackets out of the 2-3 zone defense. The offensive patience resulted in Rodney getting fouled. He missed the front-end of the one-and-one, but Tyreece Brice soared to grab the offensive rebound. He pulled down the ball and was also fouled.
Brice sank both attempts for a 56-53 lead with 1:20 remaining. Forcing an errant Yellow Jackets shot, the Stallions grabbed the rebound and burned more clock. Guard Tay Blake was fouled and sank one-of-two to extend the Stallions lead to two possessions, 57-53, with 29 seconds remaining.
As T.L. Hanna rushed down court, Johnson stole a pass at midcourt and applied the finishing touches on the South Pointe victory with an uncontested slam dunk.
We fought back to get into this one after being down early, Hanna coach Barney Brown said. We are capable of making runs and had a good run there in the third. But in the end, South Pointe did a good job on the offensive boards.
Stallions coach Melvin Watson credited his team for keeping their composure during the huge momentum swing.
We knew they would make a run; the first three minutes of the third are very important and we got careless on a couple of possessions and let them back in the game, said Watson. I knew they could score, but we did not expect them to have the kind of run that they had.
But we did not panic in the fourth. After being down in the last few games that we played, that taught us that we could come back.
South Pointe (22-1) advanced to the Class-AAAA Upper State semifinals on Tuesday against the winner of Friday nights Irmo-Spartanburg contest. Hanna, based in Anderson County, finished with a 21-4 record.
South Pointe 60, T.L. Hanna 53
T.L. Hanna Quinn Martin 11, Haissan Handy 11, Quendal Johnson 6, Jameel Taylor 23, Chuck Ikengbu 2.
South Pointe Tay Blake 6, P.J. Heath 25, Devin Pearson 1, Tyreece Brice 8, Anthony Johnson 11, Marveon Mobley 2, Montez McCullough 2, Isaiah Rodney 5.
3-pointers T.L. Hanna 3 (Taylor 3), South Pointe 2 (Blake 1, Brice 1). Team fouls TL Hanna 21, South Pointe 20. Fouled out Ikengbu (Hanna).
Records: T.L. Hanna 21-4; South Pointe 22-1.