TRAVELERS REST -- It was a blur to Kayla Jenerette, but it was a necessity for the Travelers Rest girls basketball team.
Jenerette poured in a season-high 34 points, including a 3-pointer that sent the game into overtime, and the Devildogs went on to an 82-77 victory against Chester in a first-round, Class AAA playoff game at Joe Small Gymnasium.
With a little more than a half-minute remaining in regulation and Travelers Rest trailing 69-66, Jenerette made a steal in the backcourt.
Jenerette passed to Rebecca Clanton, who got the ball back to Jenerette at the top of the key. The 5-foot-5 sophomore never hesitated, nailing a 3-pointer, and the score stood until the overtime.
Jenerette said details of the frantic final minute of regulation were unclear and less important than the outcome.
"I'm thinking winning," she said. "That's all I'm thinking about right now."
TR (21-4) advances to Thursday's second round against the winner of the Clinton-A.C. Flora game.
The Devildogs used free throws to take control in overtime. Alexia Smith, 15-of-18 from the line in all, was 6-for-6 in overtime. Jenerette, 11-of-12 overall, was 5-for-6 in overtime.
Smith, a 5-7 junior who scored 24 points, made two free throws with 4.9 seconds remaining that gave TR an 82-77 lead.
Chester (19-9) lost center Jasmine Sanders, who scored 26 points, to fouls with 1:40 left in regulation. Then the Cyclones lost guard Porschia Carter, who scored 23 points, to fouls midway through the overtime.
"Regardless, the girls have to come and play," Chester coach Marilyn Milton said. "Through fouls, through issues on the court, through the home-court advantage, the girls just have to play through it. Don't get caught up in the mental part of the game. Other than that, we fought hard."
TR led 41-34 at halftime. Chester rallied to take command in the third quarter and still led 69-64 with 1:04 remaining in regulation.
"In that timeout, I said, 'Do you wanna be home and stay home, or do you wanna move on? It's up to you,'" TR coach Chris Marsh said.
Clanton hit a pair of free throws, and Jenerette's 3-pointer kept the Devildogs alive. Then free throws by Smith and Jenerette and a basket inside by Jenna Church -- off a nice feed from Clanton -- pushed TR ahead in overtime.
Marsh, in his fourth season, has seen the Devildogs improve from four victories his first year, to six, to 12, to this year's 21.
"For me, this is huge," Marsh said. "For the program, this is huge. But I hope to continue."