A journey that typically encompasses all 15 to 20 steps might as well have taken eternity for Green Sea Floyds co-captains Tamara Jackson and Jalinda Johnson.
Begrudgingly walking from the team’s bench to halfcourt, the duo was relegated to accepting a trophy they and their teammates had no intention of bringing back to their northern Horry County community.
Down by as many as 12 points late in Friday’s Class A girls final to Estill, a late surge allowed the Trojans to cut the deficit to a bucket. And with the Fighting Gators at the line for a 1-and-1, coach Tracy Kienast was looking forward to the opportunity of potentially having the game’s final shot.
Unfortunately for him and the Green Sea Floyds girls basketball team, it was an opportunity that never came.
Despite Estill missing three consecutive free throws at the free throw line late, the Trojans were unable to secure any of the rebounds. And as a result it sealed their fate as they fell three points short of a state championship to the Fighting Gators, 49-46.
“We did what we needed to at the end to get back in it and make a good run at them, but we just couldn’t get that rebound,” Kienast said. “I think they had three straight 1-and-1s and we just couldn’t get the ball cleared. But we fought hard all season; I have no complaints.”
Much like the Green Sea Floyds’ win in the Lower State final over East Clarendon, the team fell victim to a third-quarter lull. Except this time, it proved too much a hole to dig out of.
Even with 6-foot-4 center Roche Brown out of the game, the Fighting Gators pushed what was a four-point lead into a double-digit one. Partially responsible for the spurt was Tykeria Johnson, whose seven points in the period allowed her team’s lead to balloon.
“She’s our point, she runs the team,” said Estill girls basketball coach Marcus Livingston. “Without her, it’s hard for us to get the ball where we want to go. She’s the heart and soul of the team.”
While the odds were long on a comeback, they did not deter Green Sea Floyds’ Tamara Jackson from setting the stage for a dramatic comeback. The junior dynamo finished with a game-high 31 points — 17 of which coming in the second half.
Her layup following a steal by backcourt mate Laura Black trimmed the Estill advantage to two with 20 seconds remaining. The Trojans would draw no closer.
“We had a couple turnovers (in the third) that really hurt us,” Kienast said. “And they hit three (3-pointers) not in a row necessarily, but close together that gave them separation, and we just couldn’t quite get over the hump.
“I don’t think we hit a 3-pointer all night … if we did it was one. We usually get four or five at least a night. Shooting was off, but effort was there all night … [we] played hard and we’re just going to give it a go next year.”
Following up Tamara Jackson on the Green Sea Floyds scoresheet was Black, who finished with eight points.
As for Estill, Jonica Jackson had 14 points and 11 rebounds in a winning effort. Brown also had 11 points to go along with 14 rebounds.
GSF: Salena McCall 3, Zian Johnson 1, Laura Black 8, Tamara Jackson 31, Jalinda Johnson 3.
EST: Jonica Jackson 11, Roche Brown 14,, Destiny Beckett 8, Tykeria Jackson 9, Makenzy Williams 7.
3-pointers: GSF 1 (Jackson), EST 5 (Jackson, Beckett 2, Williams 2). Team fouls: GSF 16, EST 20. Fouled out: Brown (EST). Records: GSF 17-7; EST 19-7.