AIKEN — Another chapter of a crosstown rivalry meant another thrilling finish Tuesday night.
A slow first half transitioned into a blow-for-blow fight down the stretch, with Aiken providing the knockout punch in the form of a short run. The Hornets did enough to get past South Aiken 58-53 in overtime.
“First, credit to everybody who came out,” Aiken coach Darris Jackson said. “Once again, it was an amazing environment here. Great atmosphere of high school basketball. I thought both teams played extremely hard. Two good teams that gave it their all.”
For the second consecutive year, Aiken managed to top South Aiken in overtime on the road after the Hornets won 67-64 in last season’s matchup on the south side.
Jordan Lytes scored a game-high 20 points for Aiken (12-1, 1-0 Region 4-AAAA), which again opened region play with a victory after sweeping its way to a league title last year. Calvin Mathis, George Williams and Na’zae Baltimore each added 10 points.
Dra Patterson produced 14 points and Melvin McKie added 13 for South Aiken (7-5, 0-1).
South Aiken carried a 22-17 halftime lead to a 36-34 advantage entering the fourth quarter, sparked by eight consecutive points from McKie in the third to set up another dramatic showdown at the end of regulation.
McKie hit a 3 with 2:48 left for a 47-42 lead, but Lytes helped get Aiken back with a hard-fought layup and one-point deficit at 47-46 with 1:15 left. After South Aiken’s Josh Drayton added a layup with 50 seconds remaining for a three-point lead, the Hornets got the ball late with a final chance to tie.
The ball went to the red-hot Lytes, who drained a 3-pointer with 12 seconds left to tie at 49 and send the visiting crowd into a roar. Aiken’s Antonio Bussey blocked a last-second jumper from the Thoroughbreds to send the game to overtime.
Aiken scored six of the extra period’s first eight points for a four-point advantage, which held the rest of the way.
The girls game ended in similar thrilling fashion as South Aiken rallied from a double-digit deficit to beat Aiken 34-28.
Trailing by as much as 10 multiple times early, the Lady Thoroughbreds outscored the Lady Hornets 20-4 in the second half to complete the rally. A four-point play by Alexes Young gave them a 32-28 lead with 2:30 left for the deciding play.
South Aiken’s Aysha Scott scored 14 points.
Reach David Lee at (706) 823-3216 or email@example.com.