Stallions swat Hornets

South Pointe's Talisha Crockett, left, and Aiken's Monica Scott fight for possession of the ball. The Stallions move on to face Spartanburg in the third round of the playoffs Monday.
South Pointe's Talisha Crockett, left, and Aiken's Monica Scott fight for possession of the ball. The Stallions move on to face Spartanburg in the third round of the playoffs Monday.

Start fast, don't let up and make sure to finish strong in the fourth quarter.

It's a formula South Pointe's Lady Stallions basketball team has ridden to 25 wins this season. The latest came Friday night in the second round of the Class AAAA Upper State playoffs, 66-45 over visiting Aiken.

"When you've won 25 games, it's hard to say you are peaking or that you are playing your best ball of the season," South Pointe coach Brett Childers said. "But I think we are getting better and we are playing solid.

"It seems that every game we play, somebody different steps up. Tianna Hemphill had 21 points and nine rebounds. Alisha Hope scored some big baskets. Chelsea Douglas, who had a double-double with 13 points and 10 assists, and De'Brea Barber did a good job pushing the ball up the court."

The game started underneath with Hemphill and Hope, who had seven first-quarter points, staking South Pointe to a 4-0 lead.

OK, it seemed Aiken coach Aubrey Pompey was thinking, if they are going to attack us inside we'll have to double down. Good idea, but it doesn't work against the Lady Stallions.

Ashawna Bost nailed a 3-pointer and made it 7-0. Aiken scored its only four points of the quarter, a basket from Bree'Ane Perry and two foul shots by Shaniqua Parker. Then it was Aiken that stepped into a hornet's nest.

South Pointe reeled off 13 straight points and led 20-4 at the end of the first quarter.

It was similar to the way South Pointe started in its first-round 70-39 win over Mauldin.

"When Aiken came out to warm up, I looked at them and saw they were huge," said Hemphill, South Pointe's 6-foot-1 center. "I figured it was going to be rough under the basket, but when we started hitting from the outside and running the floor, we were able to get the ball inside and score.

"This is great. It's only our second varsity season and we are headed to the third round of the playoffs. If we keep playing the way we have, we have a shot at going to the state championship."

South Pointe (25-2) and No. 2 in Class AAAA, has a legitimate shot, but has to win two more games to get there. The Lady Stallions travel to No. 6 Spartanburg (23-4), a 73-39 winner over Wren, Monday at 7 p.m.

If they win there, South Pointe advances to the Upper State championship game on Saturday at Clemson's Littlejohn Coliseum. Getting there is a goal, not a thought that consumes then Lady Stallions. They showed that again against Aiken.

Aiken (19-7) trailed 35-12 at the half and South Pointe appeared to have the game on ice. But the Lady Hornets came out strong in the third quarter and trailed by only 15, 39-24, on Lexy Williams' jumper from the lane.

The keep-it-up part of South Pointe's game kicked in and the Lady Stallions outscored the Lady Hornets 14-6 the rest of the way and opened a 53-30 lead heading into the final quarter.

Aiken refused to stand down, and when Ashley Winfield nailed a 3-pointer with just under five minutes to play, the Lady Hornets trailed by 17.

That's when finish strong, the third directive for South Pointe, revved up.

Led by seven points from Hemphill, the Lady Stallions outscored the Lady Hornets 15-7 the rest of the way for a 21-point win.

"They have a good squad," Pompey said. "They went inside and scored on us. Scored on jumpers from the outside. They did an excellent job of executing.

"We kept pushing the best we could. I wish we could have finished more of our shots."