The snow that blanketed The T&D Region 10 days ago did more than just extend Christmas break for area school students. It also kept basketball teams from being able to practice.
So, knocking off a little rust in their game from limited time on the court in recent weeks, the Orangeburg-Wilkinson Bruinettes found a way to put together a 10-point win at home against Chapin on Friday, in a 43-33 Region 5-4A contest.
O-W is now 12-1 overall, 2-0 in region play. On Saturday, the Bruinettes will play an exhibition game against Spring Valley at 2 p.m. at Eau Claire High School in Columbia in the MLK Bash.
"What made it tough for us is that we've had two games and won both of them, but we've only had three days of practice since the 30th of December," O-W head girls basketball coach Cedrick Simpson said. "That's tough, as far as conditioning. The skill is there and doesn't leave, but you get tired and the first thing that goes is your mental capacity, and that impacts how you play defense and everything.
"We've learned how to play tired and win, which for a young team is great. But we are still fouling when we don't need to foul, letting teams stay around because they are getting to the free throw line. We've just got to do the small things that eventually will help us in the end. We haven't played four good quarters in a game yet."
On Friday, sophomore guard D'Mya Tucker scored 12 of her game-high 18 points in the second half and grabbed a game-high 15 rebounds for a double-double performance that led O-W. Meanwhile junior center Brandi Rivers added 12 points and 12 rebounds for the Bruinettes, and senior guard Biance Francis added 6 points and 4 assists.
The Bruinettes are currently ranked No. 3 in the South Carolina High School Basketball Coaches Association poll for Class 4A teams.
"Our region is tough; we've got A.C. Flora next (on the road on Tuesday), and they are tied with us for first in the region, so it's going to be fun," Simpson said. "All year long, we have been a third-quarter team. We've got to get out of that and play better basketball all four quarters.
"That's on me, as their coach, so we are going to work on that. Our team just needs to get more disciplined. Yes, right now we are 12-1, but we are far from being great. The future is bright, with just three seniors on the team and our two best players being a junior and a sophomore."
After an 8-8 tie to end the first quarter, the home team outscored the visitors 8-5 in the second quarter, despite Tucker going scoreless in the second frame. Leading 16-13 at the half, O-W posted a 12-point third quarter and held the Lady Eagles to just 5 third-quarter points. Both teams scored 15 points apiece in the fourth quarter, as O-W remained unbeaten in region play.
Senior Regan Dargen led Chapin (3-9 overall, 0-3 in region play) with 15 points, while junior Emma Fabry added 11 points.
A 3-pointer by Tucker with 1:05 left in the opening quarter gave O-W an 8-6 lead. But two late free throws by Dargen knotted the contest heading into the second quarter.
Rivers led with her play in the post heading toward halftime, scoring 4 points in the second quarter and grabbing a couple defensive rebounds to start the offense for the home team.
The scoring run began with defense after the half, as Imani Williams started play with a steal, setting up Francis for a contested shot that drew a foul and resulted in two made free throws. A basket from Rivers in the post midway through the third quarter gave the Bruinettes a 20-16 lead, after which Tucker scored 6 of O-W's final 8 points in the period for a 28-18 score to start the fourth quarter.
Rivers scored 4 points in the fourth quarter, while Tucker added 4 points on field goals and 2 points on free throws, as she had in the previous period.
The Bruinettes will play at home again on Tuesday, Jan. 23 against A.C. Flora.
The O-W Bruins, ranked No. 5 in the current South Carolina High School Basketball Coaches Association poll for Class 4A teams, took a 75-44 home win against Chapin on Friday to move to 15-2 overall and 2-0 in Region 5-4A.
The home team led 15-9 after the first quarter and never trailed after that.
Chapin dropped to 5-13 overall, 0-2 in the region.
O-W plays next on Tuesday at A.C. Flora at 7:30 p.m.