The Crestwood High School varsity girls basketball team withstood a furious second-half rally by No. 3 Wilson to advance to the Lower State final with a 58-49 victory at The Castle on Monday.
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The Lady Knights will face North Augusta on Friday at the Florence Center at 7:00 pm for the right to advance to the state championship.
“It feels wonderful,” said Crestwood head coach Tony Wilson whose team improved to 22-5 with the victory. “The girls came out and played hard. We started off strong in the first half. We came out and punched them in the mouth, but we knew they were going to come out in the second half and put up a fight. I told the girls we were just going to have to suck up and go hard in the quarter because we knew they had a fight in them.”
The first half was all Crestwood.
The Lady Knights scored the first nine points of the game, and led 21-5 at the end of the first quarter. Junior guard Shania Davis led the way with 10 points in the first quarter, connecting on a pair of three-point shots.
Crestwood stretched their lead as high as 21 points in the first half when Ashanti Washington sank one of two free throw attempts to put the Lady Knights ahead 35-14 with 13.2 seconds remaining in the half.
Wilson scored in the final seconds to cut the lead to 35-16 at the break.
“I challenged them to come out fast,” said Wilson “We normally start out slow, so I challenged them. I think that really won the game. We came out fast and went up 19 (points) at halftime.”
That’s when the comeback began.
The Lady Tigers scored the first 11 points of the second half to shrink the lead to just 35-27. Davis connected on a free throw to finally break the scoring drought at the 3:47 mark of the third quarter, but Wilson continued to fight back.
Crestwood went into the final quarter with a nine point lead, but the Lady Tigers went on a 12-3 run to start the quarter, tying the game at 46-46.
Senior CeCe Wells then scored 12 points in the final 2:50 to help the Lady Knights close out the game on a 12-3 run of their own and advance to the next round.
The key moment came with 1:07 to play.
Crestwood was clinging to a six-point lead when Wilson’s Jada Washington was fouled and sent to the free throw line.
After Washington’s missed her first free throw attempt, Wilson head coach Jessica Gerald was given a technical foul for arguing with the referee. Washington then missed her second free throw, and what could’ve been a 4-point game with a minute to play, became an 8-point game and Crestwood’s ball after Wells hit both of the free throws from the technical foul. Wells finished with a team-high 24 points.
“What can I say about CeCe?,” said Wilson. “She’s an All-State player, and she’s been doing that all year. I’m so proud of her. She stepped up big. She’s a big time player.”
Wilson star Loyal McQueen was held to just nine points on the night. The Georgia Tech commit and was held in check all night thanks to suffocating defense by senior guard Dynasia Jackson.
“(Dynasia) locked her down,” said Wilson. “She’s a good defensive player, and I challenged her all week. We know Loyal doesn’t like to go to the right side of the floor, and Dynasia did an excellent job on her tonight.”
Next up for Crestwood, they’ll face No. 2 North Augusta who beat North Myrtle Beach 75-60 on Monday. The Lady Yellowjackets are the 3-time defending state champions and finished the season with a 26-2 overall record. North Augusta is 107-5 over the past four seasons.
“We’re just going to have to get to the drawing board and be ready for whoever we face on Friday,” said Wilson.
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