Sports

South Pointe's great season might be just the beginning

Somewhere on the second floor of Clemson's Littlejohn Coliseum last week, South Pointe's Chelsea Douglas fought back a sea of tears and greeted the media.

Somewhere on the third floor, Dorman's girls were celebrating another Class AAAA Upper State championship, a 55-45 win over the Lady Stallions. It was their sixth in a row and they earned the opportunity to do something they've failed to do the last two seasons -- beat Lower Richland for the state championship.

But back to South Pointe, a team that caught fire early in the season and set school records that will last for years.

The Lady Stallions won the Region 3-AAAA title, the first in any sport for the three-year-old school. They won 26 games. That might not happen again for 30 years.

Wanna bet? I'll take the odds on that one.

They won three straight playoff games, something no other South Pointe team before them in any sport has done. They played for the Upper State championship, another first.

Did we mention the coach, Brett Childers, running the show as a first-year coach? That one of his assistants, Sarah Bryant, played softball at Winthrop and another, Fred Shope, is the former AD and girls basketball and volleyball coach at Trinity Christian School?

Forget that South Pointe went 16-1 with most of this year's players two seasons ago. That was a JV team -- certainly, a very good record -- but in most cases the best players on that squad would have played for the varsity at other schools.

South Pointe didn't have varsity hoops its first year because the student body had only freshman and sophomores.

Last year is the one to put under the microscope. The Lady Stallions were 5-16, but were together for the second straight year and lost some close games.

Childers came in this season and built on that chemistry, molding his team into a cohesive unit that could compete with anyone.

South Pointe won its first 12 games. Included were wins over Lee Central and C.E. Murray, teams that were ranked No. 1 in their classifications when they played the Lady Stallions in a Christmas tournament.

Game 13 pitted South Pointe and C.E. Murray for the title. The Lady Stallions lost before starting a 10-game winning streak that ended in their only Region 3-AAAA loss, against Lancaster.

They closed out the regular season with a win over Fort Mill, then beat Mauldin, Aiken and Spartanburg in the first three rounds of the playoffs to set up their game against Dorman.

Another reason those facts are impressive? The South Carolina High School League crowns four girls basketball state champions each year and will do so again this weekend at Columbia's Colonial Center.

Dorman will be there. C.E. Murray, too, playing Hunter-Kinard-Tyler for the Class A state championship. Lee Central didn't make it, but just missed with a 64-62 loss to Burke.

So out of that group, South Pointe got two of its 26 wins and two of its three losses. Quite impressive for a second-year team.

The future looks good. Speedy guard and defensive wizard De'Brea Barber and Tianna Hemphill, a very good player underneath with her scoring and rebounding abilities, graduate. So do reserves Ikeeya Nelson and Erica Campbell.

But back are starters Douglas, Ashawna Bost and Alisha Hope, along with super-subs Talisha Crockett and Shanada Adams. They key next year is going to be developing an inside game.

And there is a little of the unknown. In one of the biggest blunders in years, the SCHSL -- which I solidly support 99 percent of the time -- took South Pointe and Rock Hill out of what was looking like a York County region and put them in Region 4-AAAA.

Instead of playing against girls they grew up facing, they'll have to learn what to expect from region members Blythewood, Ridge View and Spring Valley. At least common foe Lancaster was included in the move.

Before we go, let's get back to Douglas.

She didn't want to talk after the loss to Dorman, but she wiped her face and came out to face the reporters waiting with their questions, notepads and mini-recorders.

After explaining that South Pointe was taken out of its offense and let Dorman slow the tempo, she said, "I'm one of our captains and it hurt to lose after all we've done this season. But I'm going back into the locker room and tell my teammates to hold their heads high."

You know what? With that kind of attitude, the Lady Stallions might win more than 26 games next year. Hope nobody takes me up on my bet.

Way to go, girls. Because of you, a lot of people in Rock Hill are holding their heads high with you.

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