Redan High of Stone Mountain, Ga., has won 38 consecutive games.
Few, if any, were more difficult and contested than Wednesday's championship game of the 16-team Crescent Bank Holiday Invitational at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.
Redan, the highest ranked team in the tournament by USA Today at No. 7 in the country, broke a tie in the final 21/2 minutes and captured the title with a 58-53 win over Spring Valley.
"The championship allowed us to keep our undefeated streak and that's a big deal for us," said Redan junior forward Aneesah Daniels, who had game highs with 18 points and 10 rebounds. "It's an ongoing thing, so we need to keep working hard and protect our undefeated record."
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The spirited game had 12 lead changes and five ties, the last coming after Spring Valley sophomore guard Asia Dozier made two free throws with 2:46 remaining. Daniels then gave the Raiders (11-0) the lead for good at 53-51 with an inside basket with 2:23 remaining.
Two free throws by Kierra Paige, after she accepted a nifty behind-the-back pass from point guard Alisha Andrews on the block, pushed the advantage to four points. A baseline jumper by Dozier pulled Spring Valley (11-2) within two, but Nia Evans made a layup after Redan broke a press attempt with 27 seconds left, and a missed 3-pointer by Dozier, who had team highs with 18 points and five rebounds, ended Spring Valley's chances. Redan had three steals in the final 2:25 to help secure the win.
"The difference was our lack of poise down the stretch, which is a little bit uncharacteristic," Vikings coach Anne Long said. "I didn't think anybody really wanted the ball, other than Dozier maybe, and Asia was just, I think, trying to take a little bit too much on herself. Down the stretch we had a couple turnovers that really hurt us."
Spring Valley (11-2), the defending Class AAAA state champion, starts three juniors and two sophomores and was trying to become the first South Carolina team to win the Crescent Bank Invitational since 2001. It was the third squad from the Palmetto State to play for a championship in the past eight years.
Redan is the reigning Georgia state champion in Class AAAAA, the state's largest classification. The Crescent Bank Invitational was the program's first holiday tournament, but undoubtedly not its last. A squad dominated by upperclassman is responsible for the 38-game winning streak.
"I think we had a little more maturity in the game," Daniels said. "They have a lot of younger players and we've been in a lot of tough positions like that. We know how to keep our composure and pull it out, so I think that was the difference."
Redan opened up the game's largest lead at nine points with 3 minutes remaining in the first half following an inside basket by Daniels and 3-pointer by MacKenzie Dalrimple. But Spring Valley scored 11 straight points on a three-point play by Savonia Bryan, 3-pointer by Briana Robinson, layin by Xylina McDaniel and three-point play by McDaniel with 3.5 seconds to play.
Andrews banked in a 25-foot 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Raiders a one-point halftime lead.
A six-point Redan advantage following one of Dalrimple's three 3-pointers with 5:50 to play was the largest advantage either team enjoyed in the second half.
"This tournament had most of the best competition we've played so far. It was a great tournament for us and I think it will make us better," Redan coach Jerry Jackson said. "They pretty much believed in each other and knew that they could take care of what they needed to take care of to get this done."