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Aquinas' upset bid comes up just short

Irish push No. 1 team to overtime

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Only a late rally by one of the top teams in the state extinguished what would have been a remarkable achievement.

If Wilkinson County had not topped Aquinas in overtime for the Region 4-A boys basketball championship Saturday night, the area would have had three region champions in a roughly five-mile radius. Richmond Academy and Laney won championships that night.

"Wouldn't that have been something?" said Aquinas coach Bernie Norris , two days after his team fell 66-61 to No. 1 Wilkinson County. "It took overtime, but they got us."

The Irish had lost to Wilkinson twice earlier in the year, by 39 and 30 points. This game was different, which has Norris thinking his team is peaking at the right time.

"We finally figured out our identity," he said. "We got a good ball club. I'm looking for us to do big things in states."

Aquinas led Wilkinson by three points with 40 seconds left. The Warriors then buried what Norris said was an NBA-length 3-pointer, then denied a final drive by Aquinas to send the game to overtime.

"That team can play ... they can play with Richmond (Academy) -- people like that," Norris said. "It took us a couple of games, but we got after their pressure. They are 28-0 for a reason. They didn't get that way by a mistake."

Laney and Richmond Academy won their championship games by double digits. All three teams will play host to first-round playoff games Friday, as will Region 3-AAAA runner-up Glenn Hills.

Aquinas will get a visit from Calhoun County, which will be traveling some 300 miles for the first-round game.

EVANS THIRD: Region-tournament consolation games can sometimes be tough to get up for.

The Evans boys, though, certainly benefitted from their 62-54 win over Westside, which gave the Knights the No. 3 seed out of Region 3-AAAA.

Instead of a trip to Glynn Academy, which hasn't lost since Dec. 18, Evans will visit Wayne County in the first round.

While every team in the postseason is capable of winning, this draw certainly looks better for the Knights. Westside will travel to Glynn Academy on Friday.

BULLDOGS HIT ROAD: Silver Bluff's boys and girls teams will shoot for final four berths on consecutive nights this week.

Both teams are playing in the Charleston area, about 20 minutes apart. The girls team plays Bishop England tonight, while the boys play Burke a night later.

The Bulldogs are the two largest area schools remaining in the South Carolina playoffs.

WRESTLING REPORT: Hephzibah 125-pounder Steven Ellison was the highest-placing area wrestler this past weekend at the GHSA's traditional championships.

Ellison finished fourth in his Class AAAA weight class after falling to the eventual champion by two points in the semifinals.

Greenbrier senior Caleb Harris lost to eventual champion Mac Bennett (Collins Hill) in the 189-pound Class AAAAA quarterfinals and did not finish among the top six.

PANTHERS PLACE: The Lakeside girls swimming and diving team recorded a top-10 finish over the weekend at the GHSA swimming and diving championships.

Most of the Panthers' points came from sophomore Katherine Huff, who was third in 50-yard freestyle (24.23) and second in the 100 freestyle (52.24). She won the preliminaries in both events.

The Lakeside boys finished 33rd.


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