Jackets survive against Bengals

NORTH AUGUSTA 53, BLYTHEWOOD 51

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NORTH AUGUSTA --- After missing two free throws in the waning moments, Kayla West didn't want Tuesday night's contest to be her prep finale.

"I just saw myself not wanting to cry at the end of the game," the North Augusta senior guard said.

She and her teammates saved the tissues for another day.

West scored a game-high 28 points and the Lady Jackets fended off Blythewood 53-51 in the first round of the Class AAAA playoffs Tuesday.

North Augusta (20-4), the Region 5-AAAA champion, will play host to the West Ashley- West Florence winner Friday night.

"At this point, it's survive and advance," Lady Jackets coach Jared Adamson said. "We were able to survive."

North Augusta scored the first 12 points of the game and led 16-4 late in the first quarter. Just when it appeared the Lady Jackets were going to blow out Blythewood (11-11), which opened the contest with seven consecutive turnovers, the Lady Bengals bounced back.

Blythewood used a 2-2-1 half-court trap in the second half to force 11 North Augusta turnovers after intermission.

The Lady Bengals mounted a furious comeback and pulled within one on Bria Benson's half-court shot to end the third quarter.

Three minutes into the fourth, Lashonda Canty swished a 10-foot jumper in the lane to give Blythewood its first lead of the game at 42-41.

"I think we got complacent," Adamson said. "We took our foot off the pedal."

North Augusta trailed by three with three minutes to go when West and her teammates went to work.

From the left corner, West buried a 3-pointer to tie the game. Later, Teanda Cunningham scored on a putback.

After the Lady Bengals' Aleah Keels drove down the lane for a bucket, Tammy Benson responded with a layup. The Lady Jackets led 49-47.

"They wanted it, but we wanted it more," Benson said. "We just grinded it out."

West, who scored seven points in the final three minutes, had a chance to ice the game at the foul line with 6.4 seconds left. The Texas Southern signee, who drained 8 of 9 free-throw attempts earlier in the game, missed both shots.

Blythewood advanced the ball to midcourt and called a timeout with 3.6 seconds to go. Jai Lykes missed a 17-foot jumper as time expired, sending the Lady Jackets into euphoria.

"Our heart is unbelievable," West said. "We do whatever we have to do to get to the next level."


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