With the chance to make history but their backs against the wall, the Trojans showed just what they are made of Monday night.
The Green Sea Floyds girls basketball team erased a late second-half double-digit deficit en route to a 60-58 win over Cross in the third round of the Class A playoffs.
The victory, according to what coach Tracy Kienast could gather, pushed the Trojans into the Lower State finals for the first time in school history.
“I loved the effort. They did not quit,” said Kienast, whose team will take on Region VI-A rival East Clarendon at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Florence Civic Center. “They knew it was win or go home and they left left what they had out there.”
After battling back from as many as 13 down in the second half, the Trojans and Cross – which has the same nickname – traded leads before Green Sea Floyds could put the clamps down in the waning seconds. Selena McCall hit a free throw to give GSF a two-point lead with about 2 seconds left and her team forced Cross into a lengthy last-second heave that was well off the mark.
“I was impressed,” Kienast said of his team’s resolve. “It was on the road in a tough atmosphere. It was really loud in there. A few times they had a hard time hearing what I was saying. That’s why we had hand signals and that helped a lot.”
Jalinda Johnson had a game-high 28 points, Tamara Jackson added 19 and Laura Black had eight for Green Sea Floyds (16-6).
“This is probably the best the have played together in these playoffs,” Kienast said of his three guards. “They’re rounding into the shape I saw that they could be at the beginning of the season.”
On Monday, Johnson in particular elevated her game to take some of the scoring onus off Jackson, who also is needed as a facilitator.
“She stepped up huge,” said Kienast, adding that she played through a minor, nagging bump to the leg she took in the second quarter. “… She’s just a sophomore, but she’s starting to recognize the things we need her to do.”
Aside from the starters, Kienast was pleased with his reserves’ role in helping slow down 6-foot-4 Shatyra Mooree, who finished with 21 points.
“Our bench players did exactly what we needed tonight,” he said. “They may not have scored much, but they gave us minutes against their [6-4] girl.”
Next up for the Trojans are the Wolverines, whom they split with head-to-head this season. Green Sea Floyds won by 7 at home on Jan. 20 but lost by 23 on the road Feb. 3, when East Clarendon shot lights out, Kienast said.
“We’ll just do what we can to try to slow their shooters down and hopefully we can prevail and make it to the next weekend,” he said.
First, though, the Trojans will celebrate a historic win before quickly shifting their focus back to the big prize, which is now just two victories away.
“It was a little loud in that locker room,” Kienast said of his team’s celebration. “They’re super excited [knowing] we got to Lower State, but we still have the goal of making it to state and we’ll do the best we can to win that. We’re super excited to make it farther than anyone else [in team history] but our mission isn’t over.”
Jayla Ravenel had a team-high 27 for Cross.
GSF: Laura Black 8, Tamara Jackson 19, Jalinda Johnson 28, Kyneisha Graham 2, Selena McCall 3.
Cross: Green 2, Pringle 4, Shatyra Mooree 21, Jayla Ravenel 27, J. Halls 1, T. Halls 2.
3-pointers: GSF 5 (Jackson 2, Johnson 3), Cross 3 (Ravenel 3). Team fouls: GSF 20, Cross 19. Fouled out: Zian Johnson, Rollison (Cross). Technical fouls: Jackson. Records: Green Sea Floyds 16-6.