Sports

Douglas sends Stallions to Upper State championship

South Pointe's Chelsea Douglas tries to shoot around Spartanburg's Ashley Long.
South Pointe's Chelsea Douglas tries to shoot around Spartanburg's Ashley Long.

SPARTANBURG -- It's often those small, key moments that make the difference in a close game.

As for South Pointe's girls basketball team, look no further than the final 1:58 of the first half in their 59-57 win over Spartanburg in the third round of the Class AAAA Upper State playoffs on Monday.

Spartanburg led just 25-21, but had scored eight straight points and was killing the Lady Stallions on the boards. South Pointe coach Brett Childers had a big decision to make and never blinked.

Even though Tianna Hemphill had two fouls, she is the strongest inside player on Childers' squad, and he put her back on the court. Hemphill responded with three rebounds and two baskets. Add in a pair of free throws by De'Brea Barber, and South Pointe scored the last six points of the half for a 27-25 lead.

"It's been obvious all year that we are a better team with Tianna on the floor," Childers said. "I felt we had to gamble, had to get here back out there before we got too deep behind. We were fortunate it worked out and she avoided picking up her third foul.

"What more can I say about the character of this team? Ashawna Bost, one of the best shooters in the state, didn't score tonight, and I would have said we couldn't win without her points. But our girls have bought into us, and for a second-year program, have done some good things this season."

South Pointe, ranked No. 2 in Class AAAA, moved to 26-2. The Lady Stallions play Dorman, a 52-36 winner over Laurens, for the Upper State championship at 7 p.m. on Friday at Clemson's Littlejohn Coliseum.

That was the moment. Lady Stallions guard Chelsea Douglas was the player that gave Spartanburg headaches. Douglas scored only five points in the opening half. She more than made up for it in the second with 23.

Douglas scored 12 of South Pointe's 16 third-quarter points and put up 11 more in the final quarter to finish with 28.

And she did it with flair.

She scored the Lady Stallions' final nine points on the third period. She scored the last seven of the half. It started with a 3-point play off a driving jumper in the paint. The three points gave South Pointe a 55-51 lead.

It ended with a free throw that put the Lady Stallions ahead 59-55 with 17 seconds left.

"My teammates saw I was having a good night and were confident in getting me the ball," Douglas said. "I felt good, wanted the ball in my hands. This was easily the biggest win I've ever been part of."

Spartanburg is hardly a slouch and showed early its plan was to take the ball inside. The Lady Vikings made a living getting it to center Tierra Young, who scored a game-high 30 points.

Like Douglas for South Pointe, Young had her moments. Spartanburg began the game with a 9-4 run, seven of the points coming from Young. Late in the third quarter, she scored five straight points and cut South Pointe's lead to 39-38.

Spartanburg (23-5) went ahead when Sequoya Casey followed up with two free throws. But South Pointe ended the quarter with a pair of Douglas baskets. The Lady Stallions started the last quarter with another Douglas field goal for a 45-40 lead.

It looked good for the Lady Stallions at that point, but the Lady Vikings clawed back. They tied the score at 48 on a Young basket with 3:10 left, and she was fouled. But Young missed the free throw, sinking her team's chance to take the lead. South Point held onto a small cushion the rest of the way.

"The difference was 12 (Douglas)," Spartanburg coach Sharon Dillon said. "I don't think she missed a shot in the second half.

And we were 9-of-26 from the free throw line. That's the ball game, and what more can I say?"

SOUTH POINTE 59, SPARTANBURG 57

South Pointe -- De'Brea Barber 8, Chelsea Douglas 28, Talisha Crockett 8, Alisha Hope 8, Tianna Hemphill 7

Spartanburg -- Brittany Carson 6, Sequoya Casey 16, Ashley Long 3, Johnna Stripling 2, Tierra Young 30

South Pointe12151616--59Spartanburg11141517--57

3-pointers -- South Pointe 1 (Douglas). Team fouls -- South Pointe 19, Spartanburg 20. Fouled out -- Ashawna Bost (SP)

Records: Spartanburg 23-5; South Pointe 26-2

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