Nyilah-Jamison Myers has enjoyed her best games this season against Lexington High School.
The Orangeburg-Wilkinson center matched her season-high Tuesday at home with 19 points, coming for the second time this season against the Lady Wildcats. It was also in a winning effort over Lexington 59-54 which clinched the Region 5-AAAA title for the Bruinettes and 23rd overall in school history.
"We knew we had to win," Jamison-Myers said. "We had to win for the Bruinettes' past. We had to win for ourselves. We had to win for our coaches. For everyone that comes to see us every game, we just knew we had to win. We had to put a banner up in our gym."
The celebratory mood on Senior Night was slightly diminished for Jamison-Myers at the final buzzer. She was holding the basketball to run out the final 2.5 seconds when Lexington's Kourtnie Vereen struck her in the head by an open hand swing.
An assistant coach quickly grabbed Vereen and escorted her back to the lockerroom, while an irate O-W head coach Joshua Staley gave his Clemson-bound senior a tongue-lashing. The officials afterwards told Staley they would report it to the S.C. High School League office as "incidental contact" as Vereen was reacting to Jamison-Myers accidentally hitting her with the basketball.
"By the time I did it, I didn't realize I did it until afterwards and I was like ‘Oops, I didn't mean to. Sorry,'" Jamison-Myers said. "It's not me. I don't get (technical fouls). I don't get fragrant fouls or anything. It's just a selfish thing to do."
An intense Staley was more upset with how the Bruinettes closed out the game. Leading by as many as 20 points, O-W saw its lead drop as low as three points with 19.3 seconds left as turnovers and poor execution allowed Lexington to rally.
Sparking the comeback charge was Erin Munn with 15 points, Janae Pinckney with 14 and Allison Kay with 11. As the Lady Wildcats erased the lead, an intense Staley was determined not to see the Bruinettes fold as he constantly attempted to keep them focused to the end.
"This group has quite never been in the big game," he said. "This group never won a region title, so we were trying to get them as coaches to understand the magnitude of the game. Lexington wasn't going to lay down. They weren't going to give us the game, so I wanted to make sure they had the right mindset, the right intensity to give themselves a chance."
Up 16-12 early in the second quarter, O-W scored 13 unanswered points to open up a 17-point advantage. Lexington could match up with O-W's size advantage upfront with Jamison-Myers scoring eight of her 11 first-half points in the second quarter, along with Saukita Glover and Vondria Ritter, who finished with 15 and 10, respectively.
Adding to the Lady Wildcats' second quarter woes was missing seven consecutive free throws. Coupled with managing only two field goals in the quarter and O-W entered the lockerroom up 35-17.
After a layup by Jamison-Myers gave O-W its biggest lead of 20 points, the Lady Wildcat responded with 10 unanswered points of its own. The Bruinettes turned back to its post advantage with Jamison-Myers, Ritter and Glover to take a 51-34 advantage in the fourth quarter.
"It's good to always have size and try to take advantage of it," Staley said. "That's why we try to get it in the post early."
Lexington (13-10, 7-2) rallied back with a 9-0 run to close within eight points. Missed free throws on free throw bonus opportunities by O-W enabled Lexington to draw closer. After a steal and layup from Pinckney made it 57-54 with 19.3 seconds left, Zaria Snipes made two free throws to provide a five-point cushion.
Lexington's last chance ended when Kay's 3-pointer missed and it knocked the ball out the bounds, allowing O-W to run out the clock. O-W closes out the regular season Thursday at North Augusta before starting the Class 4-AAAA playoffs Tuesday in the Bruins' Den where as long as it remains alive will stay until the Lower State finals. The Bruinettes (13-4, 9-0) have won 21 consecutive home games dating back to March 5, 1997.
"It's always good to play home because you're already at the game, you know the rim, you've got all your family support here. It's always good to come home. We just hope to take advantage of it."
Zaria Snipes 6, Nabresha Hughes 2, Dejoria Howard 6, Jenasia Daniels 5, Nyilah Jamison-Myers 19, Sade Johnson 2, Vondria Ritter 10, Saukita Glover 15
Erin Munn 15, Darnecia Sulves 2, Allison Kay 11, Kaylee West 3, Janae Pinckney 14, Kourtnie Vereen 5, Laina Carnes 4
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