Lady Eagles Return to Title Game

Jessie Stidham watches her shot fall Thursday against Dorchester. (Photo/Robert Buchanan)

Jessie Stidham watches her shot fall Thursday against Dorchester. (Photo/Robert Buchanan)

SUMTER – Before the 2015 season began, the Richard Winn Academy Lady Eagles set a goal to return to the SCISA Class A state championship game. Thursday night, the Dorchester Academy Lady Raiders were the last team in their way.

Richard Winn’s great team play led them to a 53-27 victory over the Lady Raiders to advance to the 2015 SCISA Class A state title game.

The Lady Eagles started the game on a 6-0 run as they used their full-court pressure to generate points. Dorchester Academy used their length to slow down the output of RWA’s potent scorer Jaycie Johnson, who poured in 40 points in a dominant performance against Curtis Baptist in the quarterfinals. The Lady Raiders made an effort to make sure to contain Johnson on the offensive end. But Richard Winn’s team play helped lead the Lady Eagles to a 17-6 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Turnovers plagued the Lady Raiders early in the second frame, fueling a 6-0 RWA run to open the quarter. Dorchester Academy continued to fight, however, as they cut the lead to single digits near the end of the half. Jessie Stidham then stepped up and destroyed the Lady Raiders’ momentum, burying a jumper at the buzzer to give the Lady Eagles a 29-16 halftime lead.

The Lady Eagles kicked the third quarter off with a 7-0 run as they began to run away with the game, benefiting from a suffocating defense that stifled Dorchester Academy’s offensive production. While the Lady Raiders kept Johnson under wraps, they could not stop Richard Winn’s overall ball movement on offense. The Lady Eagles used a 12-4 scoring run to end the third with a 41-20 lead as their goal to return to the title game became 8 minutes from reality.

Dorchester Academy scratched and clawed, but could not match the Lady Eagles’ all-around team chemistry as Richard Winn ended the final frame on a 12-7 run to advance to the championship game.

“I could not be more proud than my team right now,” REWA head coach Jason Haltiwanger said. “We stated at the beginning of the year we wanted to hoist that trophy up for our fans and for our school. Now we are a game away from making that a reality.”

The Richard Winn Lady Eagles will face Holly Hill Academy for the Class A SCISA state title Saturday, Feb. 28, at the Sumter Civic Center at 11 a.m.

RWA: 17-12-12-12 – 53
Dorchester: 6-10-4-7 – 27

RWA: Jessie Stidham 17, Jaycie Johnson 4, Bailey Taylor 4, Cassidy Branham 6, Alyssa Atkerson 17, Emily Brigman 5. Dorchester: Julianna McAlbany 13, Julia Smoak 12, Kindal Gray 2.

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