Redhawks lose to Aiken in heartbreaker

AIKEN – The Westwood Redhawks skimmed through the first two rounds of the State 4A Playoffs with a combined five-point margin of victory against North Augusta and Greenville. The Redhawks needed one more win against South Aiken to make their way to the final four.

Zachary Dunlap (4) contorts himself through the lane for a look at the rim. | Leroy Howard

South Aiken’s Melvin McKie and Cincere Scott each had their way when it came to shooting the ball. McKie made four 3-pointers and scored 21 points and Scott scored all 13 of his points in the first quarter.

But it was two hustle plays by the senior McKie and the freshman Scott that were the biggest ones in South Aiken’s 65-64 victory which sent the Thoroughbreds into Friday night’s Upper State championship game in Greenville.

Westwood erased a five point deficit in less than 30 seconds to take a one point lead with time winding down. On the ensuing inbound play McKie got free and coasted in to give the T-Breds a 65-64 lead with 22 seconds left.

Then with South Aiken at the free throw line nursing a one-point lead with six seconds left in the game, Cincere Scott chased down the rebound off the miss. He proceeded to evade the Westwood defenders trying to foul him to allow the clock to run out and the celebration to begin.

South Aiken will be playing Ridge View, who defeated Aiken in the other Upper State semifinal.

In some ways it was a game of momentum swings, with South Aiken getting hot in the first quarter, but then being held to five points in the second quarter as Westwood made a push to cut the lead to only two at halftime. In the second half both teams began to score at a rapid pace. The two teams combined to hit 20 3-pointers in the game. Kendall Wormack added 13.

Westwood’s Russell Jones Jr. scored 19 points to lead the Redhawks, and he nearly sparked a fourth quarter comeback victory. It was his aggressive play late in the game that allowed Westwood to close the gap and get a hold of the lead in the waning seconds.

SAHS –  22 –  5 –  21 –  17 –  65

WHS – 11 – 14 – 16 – 23 –  64

SA – McKie – 21, Scott – 13,  Green – 9, Drayton – 6, Clayton – 5, Patterson – 5, Burnett – 2. Quantez Willams – 2

WHS – ones Jr. – 19, Wormack – 13, Green – 8, Dunlap – 8, Watson – 6, Huff – 7,  Turner – 3.

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