In their 3rd straight road playoff game, Lexington traveled to Sumter to face the Gamecocks, champions of Region 6 and a #1 seed in the playoff bracket. The Cats would have to take care of the basketball, continue their hot shooting, and limit the talented Sumter offense to move on to the Lower State Semi’s. They did just that, leading for the entire 32 minutes en route to a 71-62 victory.
Lexington held a 2 point lead after the 1st quarter and built a 9 point advantage, 41-32 at the halftime break. Sumter tightened it to a 7 point game after 3 quarters, 52-45.
The Gamecocks went on a 6-0 run to make the Lexington lead just 60-56 with 3:40 remaining, and suddenly the outcome was up for grabs. After both teams traded points the score was 63-58 with 2:35 to play and the Wildcats began to slow it down. A Sumter steal and layup made it 63-60, then Caleb Shackleford hit on 1 of 2 free throws to put his team up by 4, 64-60. On the other end, Chase Neuberger drew a Sumter charging foul and the Cats drained more time off the clock. With 32 seconds left, Mason Carver was fouled and responded by making both shots. Carver has now made 25 straight from the line, his last miss on December 28th. After the free throws, Sumter could no longer cut the deficit. The final was 71-62 as Lexington moves on to Round 3 to be played Tuesday evening against a familiar foe, the Region 5 champion Blythewood Bengals. The Wildcats dropped both contests against the Bengals this season by similar 64-47 and 61-45 scores.
It was an emotional night for Coach Bailey Harris. He had been traveling to and from Greenville since Thursday to be with his ailing mother as she faced a series of surgeries. The win at Sumter gave Harris’ team their 22nd victory of the season against 6 losses. It was the 594th of his career.
Lexington 20 21 11 19 71
Sumter 18 14 13 17 62
Caleb Shackleford: 1 three-pointer, 6 two-pointers, 9 of 13 free throws for 24 points
Darius Bryant: 3 three-pointers, 2 two-pointers, 7 of 9 free throws for 20 points
Mason Carver: 2 three-pointers, 1 two-pointer, 4 of 4 free throws for 12 points
Will Haney: 2 three-pointers, 2 of 6 free throws for 8 points
Bradley Foulks: 1 three-pointer, 1 2-pointer, 1 of 4 free throws for 6 points
Colby Cain: 1 of 2 free throws for 1 point