“Transportation issues” for visiting Midland Valley delayed Tuesday’s Class 3-A opening-round playoff matchup against top-ranked Orangeburg-Wilkinson by nearly 25 minutes.
The O-W girls only needed about two minutes to turn the contest decisively in their favor. With four players in double figures and the defense forcing 46 turnovers, the Bruinettes coasted to an 87-17 win over the Lady Mustangs.
The 70-point margin of victory was a season high for O-W (24-1), which also earned its 25th consecutive home playoff win, dating back to 1998. Junior center Vondria Ritter outscored the entire Midland Valley team with a game-high 19 points to go with 14 rebounds and three steals.
Region 8-AAA Girls Player of the Year Nabresha Hughes was a basket shy of matching Ritter’s feat with 16 points. During the first quarter, Hughes connected on seven consecutive baskets as the Bruinettes closed the first half with 36 straight points.
“She’s that type of shooter,” O-W girls’ basketball coach Joshua Staley said. “She’s the type of kid that can come out and make six, seven, eight shots in a row and she showed that tonight and that opened up things in the post.”
In the absence of forward Dejoria Howard, who rested her injured knee, senior Sau’kita Glover contributed 12 points and five rebounds. As the reserves saw heavy action in the second half, freshman Tchenavia “Shay” Jackson finished with 14 points.
“We wanted to send a message to ourselves,” Staley said. “We wanted to come out and show that we were in a playoff mindset and play like our back was against the wall because if you don’t, you’re going home for the rest of the season.”
After a jumper by the Lady Mustangs’ Alexis Bates tied the game at 2-2, the Bruinettes outscored them the rest of the half by a 52-4 margin. The second quarter saw O-W shut out Midland Valley 25-0.
While Hughes hurt the Lady Mustangs from the perimeter, the duo of Ritter and Glover did their damage in the paint. Defensively, the Bruinettes began to rack up 27 steals, led by Zaria Snipes, who had five.
The only negative for the Bruinettes was Sade Johnson leaving the contest with 2:19 left in the second quarter after falling awkwardly after a rebound. She had her left ankle iced in the training room for the rest of the game, leaving with seven points, seven rebounds and five points.
She and Howard are expected to be ready for the second-round matchup against Myrtle Beach on Thursday or Friday. The Lady Seahawks (16-9) defeated Hartsville 59-38 on Monday and expressed great optimism about facing the Bruinettes.
“I feel like we’re very, very confident,” said University of North Carolina-bound senior Tanisha Brown after her 10-point, 17-rebound, 11-assist effort against the Lady Red Foxes. “I have faith in my team. All we have to do is prepare for them for two days and we can come out with the win.”
“Orangeburg-Wilkinson is no better than the teams we played in the Beach Ball Classic,” Myrtle Beach head coach Jennifer Dennison told The Sun News. “All season, even the losses we had were against good teams. We didn’t lose to weak teams.”
“Everybody is entitled to their opinion,” Staley said. “I haven’t seen the teams they’ve lost to. I’m sure they’re going to come in prepared. Coach (Dennison) is doing a really, really good job. They have a really good player in Tanisha Brown. So we’re looking forward to a really good game.”
Zaria Snipes 6, Nabresha Hughes 16, Sade Johnson 5, Vondria Ritter 19, Sau’kita Glover 12, Chelsea James 4, Kierra Mitchell 2, Tashay Walker 1, Erin Houser 4, Amari Grevious 4, Tchenavia Jackson 14
MIDLAND VALLEY (17)
Christen Dunbar 7, Alexis Bates 4, Amber Abney 6