SUMTER – Chris Hudson was one of six Orangeburg Prep players who entered the Sumter Civic Center Wednesday just 96 minutes away from finishing their high school careers as SCISA Class 3-A boys’ basketball champions.
Time ultimately ran out on the Indians as they fell short to second-seeded Augusta Christian 63-57. The loss ended the championship dreams of senior captains Hudson, who scored a game-high 16 points, Kyle Stokes, who added 14, and Paul Trimmier with 10.
“The last three years have been great,” Hudson said. “We had a good group of seniors and we knew that when our time came, we were going to make a run and we did that. We fell short, but we had a good season.
Balanced scoring staked the Lions (20-5) out to a 9-2 advantage. The Indians rebounded behind consecutive baskets by junior Davanian Murray and the 3-point shooting of Hudson to get within a basket midway in the first half.
A 10-2 run sparked by forward Jacob Greenway gave Augusta Christian its biggest lead of the first half at 12 points. The junior Lion had 11 of his team-high 13 points in the first half.
“We knew what to expect,” OPS head coach Rip Ripley said. “They got after us. They got some steals early, got some early buckets early. I’m proud of the way we kept fighting and kept trying to get to the rim, trying to score. We missed a lot of layups, a lot of free throws tonight that you have to have in these kind of games.”
Back-to-back 3-pointers by Stokes and Trimmier to open the second half cut the Indians’ deficit to 40-35. The Lions managed to stretch their lead back to seven, only for the Indians to score the final four points of the third quarter to make it 51-48 entering the final period.
Augusta Christian center Calvin Taylor regained the momentum for his team with three of his 10 points and two blocked shots to push the lead back to eight. Stokes responded with four straight points on a layup following a Taylor block and two free throws to keep the Indians in striking distance at 56-52.
OPS (18-12) could not capitalize off scoring opportunities down the stretch to further close the gap. After Kyle Stokes made 1-2 free throws, the Indians were forced to foul with 12.3 seconds left and Ashton Grant made both from the line to close out the scoring and advance the Lions to Friday’s semifinal match-up against Hammond.
As for the Indians, Stokes believes the team’s season-ending run will motivate the returning players to achieve the championship goal.
“The last 3-4 years here, we’ve made a name for OP and people are starting to respect us now,” Hudson said. “Next year it’s an opportunity to keep it up and take the program to better heights.”
AUGUSTA CHRISTIAN (63)
Nick Fortenberry 9, Jacob Greenway 13, Austin Roper 4, Ashton Roper 3, Mason Spretling 7, Ashton Grant 8, Madison Williams 3, Calvin Taylor 10, Tyquan Burns 6
ORANGEBURG PREP (57)
Paul Trimmier 10, Kyle Stokes 14, Davanian Murray 8, Marion McCurry 4, Morris Mirmow 3, Derek Andrews 2, Chris Hudson 16
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