With eight seconds remaining in the South Carolina Basketball Coaches Association North-South All-Star game Saturday afternoon at Lexington high School, Branchville’s Lydell Elmore was looking to put a cap on an MVP performance.
He broke free behind the defense and took a length of the court inbounds and slammed it home to put an exclamation point on the South’s 90-83 victory. Elmore finished with 16 points and proved players from even the smallest of Class A schools could play with guys from bigger schools.
“It was an awesome time,” Elmore said. “Coming from a small school, people don’t think you have game but I wanted to show them that we do. It was nice to win the MVP award but my main goal was to help my team win.”
Elmore had plenty of help with four players on the South team finishing in double figures. It was a see-saw affair most of the second half with neither team leading by more than seven points. But a closing 13-5 is what swung the game in the favor of the South.
Demetrius Knox of Marlboro County added 11 and Ozante Fields of Denmark-Olar and Andrews’s Wanyae Moore added 10 each. White Knoll’s T.J. Knight chipped in eight points in the victory.
Joseph Battle of Abbeville finished on the losing side but he capped a stellar couple of weeks by capturing MVP honors for the North. The Tulsa signee won a Class AA state championship two weeks ago and was named the South Carolina Gatorade Player of the Year and then added 19 points on Saturday.
He said playing with great competition was a great way to end his high school career.
“It just goes to show hard work pays off,” Battle said. “It would have been good to get the win but it was nice to come out here and play against top competition. I think it bettered my game before I go to college. It was a great experience. It’s something I will remember for the rest of my life.”
A couple of Midland players was instrumental in keeping the North close in the second half. A.C. Flora’s Kendale Hampton finished with 10 points and he scored eight of those in the second half. Tajh Green of C.A. Johnson scored all eight of his points in the second half.
Nakol Franks of Wren earned MVP honors by scoring 18 points to pace the North squad to a 78-65 victory over the South. C.A. Johnson’s Kaitlyn Pickens had 10 of her 13 points in the second half and she scored six during an 11-0 run to start the second half that gave the North team the lead for good.
Pickens said the turnaround had to start with defense – which is rare in an All-Star game.
“It was an honor to come out and play hard,” Pickens said. “We had to figure out what they were doing to score and go out and stop it basically.
Pickens, who has yet to make a college choice, said she was a little anxious in the first half but settled down in the second.
“My nervousness left to be honest,” she said. “I just started playing my game.”
Keocia Walker from Myrtle Beach earned South MVP honors by scoring 13 points.
North 78, South 65
North: Nakol Franks (Wren) 18, Kaitlyn Pickens (CAJ) 13, Zipporah Scott (BHP) 12, Shantay Taylor (Spring Valley) 8, De’Jah Williford (Lower Richland) 7, Jasmine Blackmon (Woodmont) 6, Breia Jackson (Keenan) 5, Genell Addison (Ridge View) 4, Malia Rivers (Lancaster) 4, Le’on Hill (Keenan) 1.
South: Keocia Walker (Myrtle Beach) 13, Erin Houser (OW) 12, Kimmie Hotzelt (St. James) 11, Ca’Washa Ceasar (Crestwood) 10, Taylor Foulks (Lexington) 7, Jhayniqua Graham (Aiken) 4, Kyra Wilson (Sumter) 3, Quadasia Gillard (Green Sea Floyds) 2, Zelphair Grant (Cross) 1, Shakori Jennings-Shuler (Airport) 1, Da’Kerhia Samuel (Dillon) 1.
South 90, North 83
South: Lydell Elmore (Branchville) 16, Demetrius Knox (Marlboro County) 11, Ozante Fields (Denmark-Olar) 10, Wanyae Moore (Andrews) 10, Arkel Williams (Carvers Bay) 9, TJ Knight (White Knoll) 8, Terrelle Bowens (Summerville) 8, Roy Ellis (Hannah-Pamplico) 5, Trenard Ferrell Jr. (Ridgeland-Hardeeville) 5, Justin Ford (S. Florence) 4, Jaquez Smith (N. Augusta) 2, Chance Prandy (S. Aiken) 2.
North: Joseph Battle (Abbeville) 19, Kendale Hampton (ACF) 10, Xzavier Barmore (Seneca) 9, Tajh Green (CAJ) 8, Austin Walker (Westside) 8, Quinterious Jones (TL Hanna) 8, Zach Sellers (Cheraw) 7, Tavaris Scott (Spartanburg) 5, Willie Ferguson (Blackville-Hilda) 4, Quantra Taylor (Indian Land) 4, Tyrique Glenn (Byrnes) 1.