Columbia Star

Highlanders fly to semifinals

Heathwood Hall’s Lauren Jacobs flies in for a layup as Augusta Christian’s Tierra Vandiver defends.

Heathwood Hall’s Lauren Jacobs flies in for a layup as Augusta Christian’s Tierra Vandiver defends.

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The Heathwood Hall Highlanders raced to a 17-0 lead and never looked back downing the Augusta Christian Lions 73-28 in the quarterfinals of the SCISA Class 4A Girls State Basketball Tournament in Sumter Monday, February 20.

Lauren Jacobs led the way with a game-high 19 points, and Sabreya Monsanto added 18 despite twisting her ankle midway through the second quarter. Guard Sydney Cunningham was also banged up on a drive to the basket in the third quarter. Monsanto returned just before Cunningham went down and added five of her 18. Cunningham did not return but should be fine for the semifinals.

“They’re tough, so they bounce back a lot quicker than I think I would at my old age,” laughed Heathwood head coach Brionna Zimmerman.

Shamarie Hayes also had a big night for the Highlanders chipping in 14 points, nine of which came in the second half. Camillea Gore finished in double figures as well with 11. Other scorers included Amariea Spriggs with five and Virginia Bowers, Abby Mullins, and Frances Laughlin with two each.

Heathwood forced five turnovers and six missed shots before the Lions finally got on the board with a jumper from Ryley Jolly with 3:04 left in the first quarter. Lydia Thomas added a putback basket seconds later. Then the Highlander defense went to work once more. Augusta Christian did not score again until Jolly sank one of two free throws with 19.9 seconds left in the second quarter. The next field goal didn’t come until Makenna Ellis’s spinning shot in the post with 5:48 left in the third quarter.

Ellis finished with 12 points to lead the Lions. Jolly added nine, Savannah Witt had five, and Lydia Thomas got two.

“I think that we have to continue to work on our defense,” Zimmerman said. “I think that’s what’s going to win it for us this year is if we can continue to be aggressive on defense without fouling and giving up too many outside shots.”

The Highlanders will next face the First Baptist Hurricanes, last year’s state runner-up.

“I think they’re a great team, and they’re a well-coached team,” Zimmerman said of the Hurricanes. “So when you have situations like that, you just never know what’s going to happen, but I think if we play our game, we’ll be fine. We just have to make sure that we mentally stay in the game.”

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