Joshua Staley insists it was merely coincidental and not an intentional fashion statement on his part Friday night in the Bruins' Den.
In fact, it was while watching film after school when the Bruinettes' girls' basketball coach realized his purple dress shirt and black sweater and pants were more in line with the school colors of his second-round opponent West Ashley.
"Actually, I let my little 10-month year old son pick out my clothes," he siad. "I was holding him and I said ‘Whatever you grab, that's what I'm going to wear.' So he touched this shirt, he touched these pants."
Ironically, the last team to defeat O-W in the Bruins' Den during the playoffs 15 years ago - Northwestern - also donned visiting purple and black. The Bruinettes did not allow history to repeat itself as they defeating the Lady Wildcats 55-41 for their 23rd consecutive home playoff win.
In setting up a third-round matchup with familiar playoff foe Colleton County, which defeated Wando 52-39, O-W (16-5) led the entire game. The Bruinettes jumped out to a 29-12 halftime advantage as they capitalized off 20 first-half turnovers by West Ashley and the limited minutes played due to three early fouls called on sophomore forward and Lady Wildcat leading scorer DeKeiya Cohen.
The absence of Cohen, who finished with 17 points, enhanced the Bruinettes' frontcourt advantage. All-State center Nyilah Jamison-Myers matched her season-high with 19 points, which ironically previously occurred twice against a Lady Wildcats' team (Lexington) and added 12 rebounds and five steals.
"We wanted to take advantage of (Cohen's absence)," Staley said. "We knew we had to get a cushion before she got back in the second half. She's one of the best players in the state and she's a good kid. That's why she does well, night in and night out."
"That third foul definitely hurt," West Ashley head coach Maria Williams said. "It forced my hand. It forced us to definitely sit her out going into the half and that took away some of our scoring punch and the others, unfortunately, weren't able to set up and fill that void in scoring and we definitely missed that."
Despite the victory, Staley believed the Bruinettes were often their own worst enemy. Three nights after making 13 consecutive free throws against Blythewood, O-W was a woeful 8-26 from the charity stripe.
There were also the points given away by the Bruinettes in the form of missed layups and unforced turnovers. In the third quarter, West Ashley took advantage of O-W's struggles to close the gap to nine points.
"The (opponent) in the mirror was our toughest opponent tonight," Staley said. "West Ashley, well-coached. Their coach has been there a while. She's been doing a tremendous job. But the free throws, a couple of fast break opportunities, an offensive foul on a fast break that we didn't need. We did several things tonight that are actually not really characteristic of us. We kind of got out of character and I think it comes back to focus. I told the kids you can be loose, but you've got to be focused."
O-W point guard Zaria Snipes took over the offense, scoring eight unanswered points over the final 47 seconds. She capped her scoring barrage with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from the left corner to extend the Bruinettes' lead to 44-26 entering the fourth quarter.
"I was trying to get the ball in my hands because I know it's my responsibility to run the team and just make the proper pass and if I had scoring options, that's what I needed to do," said Snipes, who finished with 12 points, six assists and five steals.
West Ashley (18-5) outscored O-W 15-11 in the fourth quarter, sparked by Cohen's eight points. She also had consecutive layup attempts swatted away in the final minutes by Jamison-Myers which accounted for her two lone blocked shots.
O-W now has 48 hours to regroup for a Lady Cougars' team it defeated 42-39 in last year's opening round in Walterboro. It snapped a road playoff losing skid dating back to 2000 for the Bruinettes, who by extending their home streak Monday will advance to their second Lower State final in three years.
"We're trying to do something that the other players laid out for us," Snipes said. "We want to keep this streak going and, hopefully, go all the way."
Five named to SCBCA All-State team
The post-season honors keep on coming for O-W's Jamison-Myers. The Region 5-AAAA Girls Player of the Year was named Thursday to the S.C. Basketball Coaches Association's All-State team.
Joining Jamison-Myers on the All-State girls' team was Blackville-Hilda's Shawanda Ferguson (Class A). On the boys' side, Edisto's Brice Johnson earned a second straight appearance on the boys' Class 2-A All-State team, while Lake Marion's Khalil Halls and Bethune-Bowman's Carl Heyward earned top honors in Classes 3-A and A, respectively.
T&D REGION PREP BASKETBALL SCHEDULE
S.C. HIGH SCHOOL LEAGUE
Orangeburg-Wilkinson at Wando 7 p.m.
Edisto at Marion 7 p.m.
Woodland at Timberland 7 p.m.
(at Wilson Hall in Sumter)
Dorchester Academy vs. Byrnes School noon
(at the Eidsen Center at Pinewood Prep in Summerton)
Holly Hill Academy vs. Bible Baptist 1:30 p.m.
(at Heathwood Hall in Columbia)
Orangeburg Prep vs. Hammond School 5:30 p.m.
S.C. HIGH SCHOOL LEAGUE
Colleton County at Orangeburg-Wilkinson 7 p.m.
CLASS A (sites to be determined)
Denmark-Olar vs. Landrum 7 p.m.
Calhoun County vs. Abbeville 7 p.m.
S.C. HIGH SCHOOL LEAGUE
CLASS A (site to be determined)
Calhoun County vs. Great Falls 7 p.m.
Lake Marion at Lower Richland 7 p.m.
SCISA (at the Sumter Exhibition Center in Sumter)
Florence Christian/Cardinal Newman vs. Orangeburg Prep 3:30 p.m.