Jalen Jackson had 17 points and Dontae Wright 11 for Silver Bluff, which finishes the season 14-11.
“We’re very satisfied with this win,” Lake Marion coach Roy Brown said. “It could have easily been the other way around with 68 in their favor, but we’ll take it, go back to the gym, settle down and work on some things that we didn’t do right tonight.”
Lake Marion (25-1) wasn’t able to get off to the fast start it is used to having.
Even with a 9-2 run, the Gators weren’t able to stop Wright. The Bulldogs senior guard accounted for eight of his team’s points, but the Gators were able to end the opening period with a 15-12 lead.
“He was getting wide open looks,” Brown said of Wright. “Our guys were doing a good job of stepping in and helping out, but then he ended up knocking down wide open shots. I told our guys make sure you find him. Don’t leave him. Stay in front of him.”
The Gators picked up right where they left off in the second quarter by attacking the basket and it paid dividends. Lake Marion finished the first half shooting 70 percent from the free throw line.
“That was a big thing in the game,” Williams said. “We weren’t really making our jump shots during the game. Khalil was kind of off because the rims were kind of tight, but our coaches told us to get the ball in the post and play from there.”
Lake Marion’s 7-0 spurt to end the second quarter gave the Gators a 33-24 halftime lead.
Silver Bluff made its move in the third quarter. After allowing Lake Marion to go up 37-24, the Bulldogs fought back going on a 9-2 push making it 39-33.
Jackson continued to fuel the Bulldogs offense, recording 11 points in the last 2:31 of the third quarter. But Lake Marion still led 50-46 after three quarters.
“We were trying to go man,” Williams said of the team’s defensive scheme against Jackson. “He was just standing in the corner, spotting up and hitting his shots.”
In the title game next Saturday, Lake Marion will meet Newberry, which beat Keenan 76-60 in the Upper State title game.
“We’re really hungry,” said Lake Marion’s Austin Lawton, who had 12 points. “Golden Corral hungry. Everybody wants a ring. We want to give our seniors something to leave with.”