Early foul trouble took the Ridgeland-Hardeeville girls’ basketball team out of its game plan, and the Jaguars’ late surge fell short in a 57-50 loss to Newberry in the Class 3A state championship game Saturday at Colonial Life Arena.
The Jaguars led 9-5 early on but had to back off their defensive pressure after guards Timothea Green and Jamee Mack each picked up four fouls in the first half. RHHS (18-4) was still within 21-18 with 4:45 left in the second quarter before a series of turnovers helped the Bulldogs reel off a 13-0 run to close the half and take a 34-18 lead to the locker room.
Newberry’s lead grew as large as 42-22 late in the third quarter before the Jaguars came to life, sparked by Lenasia Singletary’s defense and hustle. Singletary finished with eight steals and six blocks and spurred a rally that brought RHHS within 42-28 at the end of the third quarter.
All-state guard Quanajia Drayton also got going in the second half, finishing with 17 points after managing just two points on 1-of-10 shooting in the first half. The Jaguars closed within 50-45 with 1:31 left, as Green swiped the ball and dished to Drayton for a bucket in the paint and Singletary stole the ensuing inbounds pass and laid it in.
That was the closest the Jaguars got, though, as Newberry (26-4) closed out the first state title in program history with Kelsey Felks (13 points, 23 rebounds), Diamond Davis (18 points) and Zacharia Epps (12 points) leading the way.
Mack finished with 13 points and five steals and Marlaysia Westbrook added eight points and seven rebounds for the Jaguars.
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