No one expected any surprises between Carvers Bay and Latta Saturday.
After all, the teams were meeting for the third time, with each squad owning a double-digit victory over the other during region play. The difference in the Class A Lower State title game was going to be pure execution.
In that regard, the Vikings showed why they are the defending state champions.
Carvers Bay’s season – one that included the best playoff run in school history – came to an end with a 63-54 loss to Latta at the Florence Civic Center.
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“We were nervous because this was our first time being here,” senior Desaree Green said. “We didn’t want to make any mistakes. The pressure was on us.”
It showed late.
After a back-and-forth game for the first three quarters in which neither team led by more than six points, Latta made the type of plays it needed to advance in the fourth. Even with leading scorer TaKeria Legette picking up her fourth foul with more than 7 minutes to play and scoring just two more points the rest of the way, the remaining Vikings picked up the slack.
They took advantage of ball movement, creating easy layups. Meanwhile, Carvers Bay struggled to keep up. Possessions of forced play spawned turnovers, and off-balance shots resulted in Latta defensive rebounds.
“They did what they did the last two games,” third-year Carvers Bay coach Issiah Tucker said. “We missed some shots, some easy assignments. They made baskets.”
Many of the crucial ones in the final quarter came from Vikings seventh-grader Riana Green. The guard matched her total from the first two games by scoring 17 points. All but two of her points came during crucial stretches in the second and fourth quarters.
“We’ve got 14 players on our roster,” Latta coach Curtis Jackson said. “Any one of them could have gone out there and did what that seventh-grader did. Today was just her day.”
Said Tucker: “It tells us that we’ve got a long way to. We’ve got the seventh-grader beating our seniors.”
Desaree Green had 17 points and 12 rebounds and Anatashia Bromell finished with 15 points for the Bears. Latta’s Mallory Townsend and Maya Wright each added 15, with Legette ending up with 14.
It helped settle the rubber match between the two Region VIII-A foes. Latta won the first round 61-50 on Jan. 27, with Carvers Bay taking round two 63-42 Feb. 10 at home.
The most recent Vikings victory sends them back to Columbia, where this time it will be a game against top-ranked Christ Church for the state championship.
For the Bears, it came to a close, but not before the team piled up 21 victories and the region championship.
“I feel like we got closer, and they made us play better,” Desaree Green said. “I wish we could have played the last game as well as we did the rest of the season.”
•CARVERS BAY (54):
Laquasha Coles 8, Anatashia Bromell 15, Desaree Green 17, Quantaisha Robinson 7, Zaria Blain 7.
Madelia Johnson 2, Riana Green 17, Mallory Townsend 15, Takeria Legette 14, Maya Wright 15.
6161715—54Latta10141920—63• 3-point goals: CB 2 (Coles, Blain); L 3 (Green, Legette, Wright). Team fouls: CB 16, L 13. Fouled out: None. Technical fouls: None.
• Records: Carvers Bay 21-4; Latta 17-5.