JOHNSTON, S.C. --- Courtney Mealing set a personal single-game scoring mark Tuesday with 51 points, but the outburst turned out to be overkill as the Region 3-AA champion Lady Rebels of Strom Thurmond High School rolled over the visiting Keenan Lady Raiders 84-60 in the opening round of the Class AA state playoffs.
"Courtney did what she had to do tonight," said Thurmond coach Jessica Parker said. "She just did what she always does for us."
The senior struggled with her perimeter shot in the first half and ended the game having taken 40 shots from the field along with 22 free throw attempts.
But the Lady Rebels defensive pressure forced Keenan into 17 first-half turnovers, leading to a 17-point Strom Thurmond advantage at the break.
Citiyah Burton also nailed a pair of 3-pointers, scoring 10 points in the first half for the Lady Rebels.
Mealing's previous career high was 48 points in a game at Swansea last season.
She set all sorts of scoring records a year ago, but it was how the season ended (a first-round home loss in which she scored 42 of the team's 43 points) that she remembered.
This season's playoff opener was much more to her liking.
"It was a lot better this year than last year," Mealing said. "Last year I scored all but one of our points and this year my teammates got over 30. My teammates can hit open shots and when we get turnovers they can score. Citiyah was ready to hit her shots tonight."
Parker said the mental makeup of this team isn't the same as the 2007-08 Lady Rebels.
"It's a totally different focus this year," she said. "Everything is different. We set a goal to win the region this year and we did that. Now we want to go as far as we can in the playoffs and play for a state championship."
Strom Thurmond improved to 21-4 overall, while Keenan ends the season at 11-11. The Lady Rebels will play host to the winner of the Broome/Crescent game at 7 p.m. on Friday.
By the start of the second half, Mealing had located her outside touch and the Lady Raiders hopes were finished.
"I was trying to come out harder in the third quarter," said Mealing, who scored 16 of her team's 19 points in the third quarter.
"I knew if I came out good in the third quarter and played well in the fourth quarter we would most likely win the game. I really didn't know that I had that many points."
Mealing is being recruited by five colleges, she said.