BARNWELL, S.C. - The banners hanging from the walls at Solomon Blatt Gymnasium, touting state championships and other such accomplishments, all have a common slogan along the bottom: "Not finished, just begun."
The Barnwell Lady Warhorses have followed that motto this season, treating each game as if it were the first step in a protocol.
The mission - winning the South Carolina Class AA girls state basketball title. Current status - After throttling Andrew Jackson, 55-33, in the second round Monday the No. 3 Warhorses (22-1) will face the Burke-Andrews winner in the quarterfinals Friday.
Andrew Jackson, which finished the season at 18-4, had no answer for Barnwell's four-time All-State forward Melanie Johnson, who lit the Lady Volunteers up to the tune of 24 points and 22 rebounds.
Johnson, a University of South Carolina signee, took over from the opening tip, scoring 12 of Barnwell's first 15 points and 10 during an early spurt which gave the Warhorses a 13-2 lead with 7:15 left in the first half. She credited the victory to not taking the fifth-ranked Volunteers lightly.
"All the stuff I heard about Andrew Jackson was good," Johnson said. "We were up for a big challenge tonight. I heard they were just like us."
They were fairly similar, with the exception of lacking a player of Johnson's caliber.
Barnwell used a 1-3-1 defense to stifle the Volunteer attack, and opened a 21-9 lead at halftime. Andrew Jackson closed the gap to single-digits once, at 25-16 with 4:40 to go in the third quarter, but the Warhorses erased any thoughts of a comeback by using a 21-5 run to seize a 46-21 lead with four minutes left in the contest.
The win was the final home game for Barnwell's five seniors, as the Warhorses will play the remainder of their games at a neutral site.
"I was very pleased for our seniors, more than anything" Barnwell coach Carol Massengale said. "They established an outstanding record (65-11 over the past three years) since they have been here."
The Warhorses also received significant contributions Monday from several freshmen, including Brandy Hayes, who scored 10 points, to go along with six steals and four assists.
Reach Lane Kramer at (803) 648-1395, Ext. 106.