Mullins (23-2) jumped to a quick 6-0 run and never let up, leading 15-4 after the first quarter. The Auctioneers’ defense remained steady throughout, limiting the Bulldogs to seven points at the half.
The press was a staple for Mullins, resulting in early turnovers and visible nerves for Silver Bluff (14-10), including a backcourt violation.
“We knew they were going to run the press and we just couldn’t handle it,” Silver Bluff coach Robbie McKenzie said. “We did not handle it well and got behind early. The kids were pressing a little bit. They felt they had to do a little more instead of letting the ball come to them.”
McKenzie said the Bulldogs entered the second half with the mind-set of trying to chip away at the deficit. They were able to add six quick points to begin the third period and ended with 11 points in the quarter, the most for the Bulldogs in the game. However, Mullins added 14 points in the quarter to maintain a 25-point lead, including a Chris Harley 3-pointer at the buzzer to seal any thoughts of a second-half comeback attempt.
“The trap worked well early, and once they started scoring a few layups, we got back and played halfcourt defense,” Mullins coach Mark Gerald said. “Our kids worked hard on defense and it came through tonight.”
Jonathan Jenkins led Mullins with 16 points, including three 3-pointers. Harley and Darnell Coleman added 10 each.
E.J. Johnson led Silver Bluff with 11 points, and Devante Fredrick added seven. The Bulldogs were held to 2 for 22 in 3-point attempts.
“When you play Mullins, you know you’re in for some defense,” Gerald said. “That’s what we’re known for, and our kids believe in it.”
The loss eliminated Silver Bluff from the state tournament, while Mullins will go on to play the winner of North Charleston vs. Andrews in the third round.