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HEMINGWAY – The first half of Tuesday’s SCHSL Class A Lower State semifinal at Hemingway ended with the Bethune-Bowman Mohawks leading 23-22, and in position to advance to a state semifinal.

But, after the home team asserted itself in the third quarter and condensation on the rubberized court floor caused multiple slips and turnovers for the visitors, the Tigers eliminated Bethune-Bowman by a 69-50 score.

The Tigers (18-6 record) advanced to play C.E. Murray on Friday at 5:30 p.m. inside the Florence Center for the Class A Lower State Championship. The Mohawks (12-11 record) finished the season for a second straight year with a playoff run.

Class A All-State point guard Roderick Pam led the Mohawks with 20 points, while Raekwon Richburg added 14 points.

“We thought we could take them here tonight, and we were in good shape after the first half,” Bethune-Bowman head coach Artis Coulter said. “But, in the second half, they played better basketball and we kept having trouble with the floor being slippery. I’d never been around a situation like this with a basketball game.

“They went on a 12-0 run off of turnovers where we slipped because of the conditions in this gym. They got layups and dunks, and that’s a big jump simply from unfit conditions for a high school game. Hemingway played well in the second half, so we can’t point the finger only at the conditions. But it’s just not right.”

Class A Player of the Year Darius Taylor played his steady scoring game from his point guard slot, collecting 13 of his game-high 25 points for the Tigers in the second half.

But, early on, it was Bethune-Bowman finding a scoring consistency. The Mohawks led by as many as 5 points in the first quarter, before the Tigers tied things up to end the period with an 8-8 tie.

A 3-point play early in the second quarter from Braxton Wedgeworth put the Mohawks up 11-10. Richburg and Jerrell Brown connected on consecutive treys midway through the period, giving Bethune-Bowman a 17-14 lead. Richburg and Pam each made a free throw late in the second quarter, giving the Mohawks the one-point lead at halftime.

Led two baskets from Taylor, Hemingway started the third quarter on a 6-0 run. A Pam 3-pointer was the only points from the visitors as the home team ran off on a 13-3 scoring run midway through the period.

A 3-point play from Richburg with 2:45 left in the third only pulled the Mohawks to within 7 points, 40-33. Darius Williams registered a baseline dunk and a jumper in the paint late in the third for a 49-33 lead for the Tigers.

Things only got worse for Bethune-Bowman, as Pam, Richburg and Wedgeworth lost their footing and the ball on several occasions early in the fourth quarter. That led to dunks by Dashaquavious Cooper, who scored all 6 of his points in the final period for the victors.

The Tigers went 7 of 13 on free throws, while the Mohawks went 12 of 21 on free throws.

“It’s a great run, and I’m not even mad at this loss,” Coulter said. “Our team needs to move on and learn from this experience.

“We became more of a family as the season went on. Early in the season, we got rid of some players who aren’t the right fit for our program. Everyone started linking together and playing defense as a unit. Things are moving in the right direction and we won’t be denied from winning a championship one day. The Bowman community deserves it.”

With Pam being the lone senior on the Mohawks roster, the future for the program looks bright as Bethune-Bowman plans to make more noise in playoffs next year.

HEMINGWAY (69) – Keyshawn Davis 3, Darius Taylor 25, Aaron Parker 4, Troy Singletary 2, Jaquan Julions 10, Darius Williams 8, Tyrike Lewis 7, Micah Bryant 2, Quan Anderson 2, Dashaquavious Cooper 6

BETHUNE-BOWMAN (50) – Roderick Pam 20, Braxton Wedgeworth 7, Jerrell Brown 3, Raekwon Richburg 14, Javier King 3, Walter Brown 3

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