Stephanie Butler has “dreamt” of leading South Pointe to state final
South Pointe dropped Westwood 57-41 Friday night in Greenville, and will play for the school’s first girls’ basketball state title next week. The Stallions built a 19-point halftime lead and managed the game in the second half to stave off Westwood’s comeback attempts.
“The kids were just determined,” said South Pointe coach Stephanie Butler. “It wasn’t just one person.
South Pointe’s 2007-08 girls’ team also reached the 4A Upper State championship, but lost to Dorman by 10 points.
Against Westwood, Scarlett Gilmore led the Stallions with 17 points, while Randi Neal had 13 and Jamia Blake 12. Gilmore and Blake were integral as South Pointe choked the life out of the game in the second half with long offensive possessions.
“Jamia was just steady the entire game,” said Butler. “I thought she played with incredible focus.”
The Stallions (26-4) face North Augusta in the 4A state title game at 5:30 p.m. March 2 at Colonial Life Arena in Columbia. North Augusta has won back to back state championships.
The Stallions and Redhawks split their regular season meetings, South Pointe coming from behind to win the first game and Westwood doing the same in the second. And the two teams spent most of the season in the top three spots of the 4A girls’ basketball state rankings.
It looked like it would be another close one Friday night in Greenville, at least for the first quarter and some change.
The score was tied at 17 with 5:56 left in the second quarter when Westwood, which has four future college players on its roster, began turning the ball over with surprising regularity. The Stallions, who only allowed opponents an average of 36 points in three preceding playoff wins, were ruthlessly receptive, turning a bunch of their steals into layups or free throws.
Westwood’s offensive struggles seemed to impact its defensive levels and that led to some easy lay-ins for Najah Lane, Neal and Gilmore. Butler’s team outscored the Redhawks 25-6 the rest of the quarter and led 42-23 at the half.
Butler said her players didn’t even sit down at halftime, and they converted that intensity and excitement into another defensively stifling 16 minutes of action to seal the win and march on to the state final.