The Indian Land girls basketball team had two goals going into this season.
"We wanted the number one seed [in the playoffs] and want to win the state championship," said Lady Warriors guard Jelisa Gordon.
After a hard-fought, 63-60 win against Chesterfield in the Warriors' home finale last Tuesday, the team can put a big check mark next to one of those goals.
Indian Land clinched the 1A Region Three championship with the win, setting up a home playoff matchup against C.A. Johnson High School in the opening round and dominated the Lady Hornets 68-33 Monday night.
The Lady Warriors host Landrun Thursday night.
The Lady Warriors gave the Hornets a heavy dose of sophomore Shelby McConnell, as she collected 12 points in the first quarter. The rest of the team had four. C.A. Johnson only accounted for nine points in the first quarter.
"Shelby McConnell had one of her best games of the season, scoring and rebounding," Indian Land coach Tamara Jacubus said. "She really stepped up her game tonight."
For the first five minutes of the game the Hornets were hanging with the Warriors. However, Indian Land dug in defensively and the Warriors went on 22-0 run ending with 5:20 remaining in the second quarter. C.A. Johnson's Whitney Green stopped the bleeding with a 3-pointer, to make the score 23-12.
Indian Land's bench came up big during that run as Brittany Montgomery and Amanda Gullickson combined for 12 points. The Warriors went into the half with a 36-19 lead. Indian Land's bench outscored C.A. Johnson's 21-0
It only got worse for the Hornets as they only accounted for 14 combined points in the second half to the Warriors 32.
C.A. Johnson's coach Melvina Pierce could tell that it was a different team she was coaching in the playoffs.
"We were not playing aggressive like we are use to playing," she said. "We weren't playing very good defense."
The win against Chesterfield was the 11th region victory of the year for the Warriors, a team that has seemed unbeatable through most of their region schedule.
But it hasn't been as easy at it may seem for Indian Land, even though they have won by huge margins in many of their region matchups.
"It's been tough. We have to practice hard and play hard against every team we play," Gordon said.
The Warriors appeared to be on their way to another lopsided victory in the region-clinching game against Chesterfield, jumping out to a commanding 17-2 lead in the first quarter.
The Rams came out in the second quarter and matched Indian Land's intensity, especially on the defensive end, and trimmed the lead back down to five points at the half, 34-29.
The game evened up in the second half, and Chesterfield actually pulled ahead for the first time with just over five minutes remaining in the game.
With the Warriors' offense stalled late in the fourth quarter and the Rams ahead by two points, sophomore guard Hannah Harris sank two straight jumpers in the closing minutes, and drained two free throws to put Indian Land ahead for good.
"I just took my time and concentrated," Harris said about her team-leading six fourth quarter points.
Harris said she considers Chesterfield the team's toughest test.
"It means a lot. I'm so excited," Harris said. "We're glad to be the top team going into the playoffs."
Harris finished the game with 13 points. Mariah Williams was the team's high scorer with 18.
With the title already wrapped up, Indian Land finished out a perfect 12-0 region record with a 46-43 win at Buford Thursday night.
The back-to-back three point victories were uncharacteristically slim margins for the high scoring Warriors group, but Head Coach Tamara Jacobus insists it was good preparation for the team's playoff games.
"They just showed a will to win when their backs were against the wall," Jacobus said.
The team finished out the regular season with an 18-5 record overall.
James Lamberts contributed.