By MIKE McCOMBS
SUMTER – It would be fair to say Kenny Conroy had to wonder if he would get back here.
After a SCISA state championship in 2015, the Hilton Head Christian Academy girls basketball head coach would have been justified feeling like there were forces working against him.
“In 2015, we had the best team I ever coached,” Conroy said. “In 2016, we had Zi Doe and we couldn’t get here with Zi Doe. In 2017, we had Macee Tamminen. Two Division I players, and we couldn’t get here. Last year, we had injuries.
“This year, we chased the carrot and we caught it.”
Caught it they did.
The Eagles (25-3) handled Thomas Sumter Academy, 61-42, on Saturday at the Sumter Civic Center to win the SCISA 2A state championship.
HHCA trailed Thomas Sumter (13-10) for less than a minute before taking a lead it never surrendered.
The 1-2 punch of junior Jasmine Campbell and senior Jossie Frazier were simply too much for Thomas Sumter to handle.
“They didn’t have an answer,” Conroy said. “Those two tall players are very athletic. They’re not just two big (bodies). They made some big shots. They altered some shots.”
Campbell poured in 17 points a year after a season ended too early by a torn ACL and was joined on the all-tournament team by Frazier and teammate Brielle McCarthy.
“Going through the injury, I didn’t think I’d get back here,” Campbell said.
Early in the season, Campbell and McCarthy, also coming back from an ACL injury, were limited.
“At the beginning of the year, we had a very difficult schedule,” Conroy said “(Campbell) was only allowed to play four minutes at a time. It was difficult to have a lead on, for example, Calvary Day School of Savannah, a powerhouse. And you know you’re going to lose it, because I have to sub in.
“For Jasmine and Brielle, who rehabbed their way back, this is huge. And the real blessing is they both come back next year.”
Fraizer also scored 17 points for the Eagles, who won their eighth state championship and second in SCISA. Dior Shelton added 11, McCarthy added eight, Sydney DeSimone had five, and Ady O’Grady and Abby Peduzzi scored two each.
The Generals were led by senior guards and fellow all-tournament team members Sydney Daniel (18 points) and Aubrey Stoddard (12).
Daniel was strong early, scoring 11 of the Generals’ 14 first-half points before the Eagles wore her down.
“Our full-court defensive pressure just wore them out,” Conroy said. “That’s what we try to do, wear them out so they don’t have their legs late in the game.”