Standing a scant 5-foot-7, Darlington’s Frankie Johnson knew to succeed on the basketball court he would have to do more than his opponents – whether at practice or during games.
His ball-handling skills legendary in the Palmetto State, the diminutive point guard was able to showcase his abilities on a grander stage Saturday night when he and other South Carolina basketball all-stars took on their peers from the Tar Heel State.
Johnson would not disappoint.
The Darlington standout showcased his full arsenal during the Carolinas All-Star Classic, finishing with 14 points, four rebounds and four assists en route to the MVP award in S.C.’s 114-91 rout of North Carolina.
Johnson was particularly effective from 3-point range, knocking down 4 of his 8 3-pointers attempted. In fact, the South Carolina side knocked down 16 shots from long range in the game.
“I just want to thank God for he opportunity to get the MVP award,” he said. “I knew I had to play twice as hard being the smallest person on the floor.”
Johnson was part of a South Carolina attack that stymied its Tar Heel counterparts for much of the evening, leading by as many as 28 points.
Despite outshooting the opposing Sandlappers – knocking down 45 percent of its shots – North Carolina’s 25 turnovers were its undoing.
Leading the way for South Carolina was Gray Collegiate Academy’s Ian Kinard with 18 points, followed by West Florence’s Cartier Diarra with 15.
Havelock High’s Kyran Bowman led all scorers with 21 point en route to being named the North Carolina team MVP.
▪ NORTH CAROLINA (91): Davion Mintz 3, Jaylen McManus 8, Damani Applewhite 12, Jay Huff 11, Ian Boyd 10, Kyran Bowman 21, Jalen Sanders 5, Zach Cottrell 7, Raekwon Long 14.
▪ SOUTH CAROLINA (114): Daniel Carr 12, Cartier Diarra 15, Chris Ross 9, Jordan Bruner 8, Brevin Galloway 14, Frankie Johnson 14, Eli Lake 7, Preston Parks 13, La’Darius Williams 4, Ian Kinard 18.
▪ HALF: SC 39, NC 29. 3-point goals: NC 4 (Boyd, Bowman, Sanders, Cottrell), SC 16 (Carr 2, Diarra, Ross, Galloway 2, Johnson 4, Lake, Parks 2, Kinard 3). Team fouls: NC 16, SC 23. Fouled out: Bowman (NC). Technical fouls: None.
GIRLS – South Carolina 78, North Carolina 77
It’s been said the 3-point shot is the “great equalizer.”
With that in mind, when a player has the ability to make that type of shot like Central Davidson’s (N.C.) Jordan Chavis, a team is never out of the ballgame.
Her team down 17 points in the second half, the Missouri commit led a furious rally to get her squad within one with seconds remaining. After the South Carolina squad was unable to convert a couple of shots from point blank range, the ball was in Chavis’ hands with a chance to win.
This time, the task proved too much, a heave from three-quarters court landing just off the mark, allowing the South Carolina team to earn a 78-77 victory in the Carolinas All-Star Classic at Socastee High School.
For her effort, Chavis was named the North Carolina team MVP.
“Everyone was contributing and coming together in an effort to get the win,” Chavis said. “In the second half, they saw I had the hot hand, and started get me the ball of screens and it started working.”
After a solid start to the game by the North Carolina side, its counterparts to the south seized control led by Dreher standout Jhileiya Dunlap and Sumter’s Jessica Harris. Each of them would score 16 points, with Harris being named the South Carolina team MVP.
“Though an exhibition, we certainly were trying to go out there and win, and go out on a good note,” Harris said. “We were very competitive and wanted to win for South Carolina.”
At the 13-minute mark, South Carolina was in cruise control, up by a count of 55-38. But thankful to some great execution on their part and sloppy play by their opponent, North Carolina was allowed to claw back in.
Chavis, who had a game-high 24 points, made 3 of her 7 attempts from deep range in the second half, her last of which pulled the North Carolina side to within two.
On the team’s next possession, Rosewood (N.C.) High’s Lexi Mercer would tie the game by sinking a pair of free throws.
However, on the ensuing trip up the floor Dunlap was fouled, allowing her to go to the line for a pair. She would sink the front end, with the second caroming off the rim and South Carolina attempts at a stick back unable to meet the mark.
“It was a fun finish,” Chavis said. “I wish we could have won, but it was a fun way to end my career.”
▪ NORTH CAROLINA (77): Angel Rizor 5, Bayley Plummer 1, Bailey Kargo 10, Mikaya Wilson 5, Te’ja Twitty 6, Lexi Mercer 13, Chanin Scott 10, Jordan Chavis 24, Naheria Hamilton 3.
▪ SOUTH CAROLINA (78): Jhileiya Dunlap 16, Asiah Jones 3, Justice Gee 2, Jessica Harris 16, Christian Hithe 9, Shayla Bennett 7, Kionna Jeter 9, Lauren Harley 11, Shaquanda Miller-McCray 1, Brooke Jordan-Brown 4.
▪ HALF: SC 55, NC 39. 3-point goals: NC 7 (Kargo 2, Scott, Chavis 4), SC 4 (Harris 2, Bennett, Jeter). Team fouls: NC 24, SC 26. Fouled out: NC: Wilson, Hamilton. SC: Miller-McCray.