May River’s swarming Sharks were determined to prove Monday night that their defensive effort in last week’s win over Beaufort High was no fluke. And freshman Morgan Scott continues to prove she’s the real deal.
The Sharks again limited the damage done by Eagles star Layla Warren, and Scott poured in 18 points in a dominant performance in the post, propelling May River to a 36-30 victory and a rematch with rival Bluffton in the Region 7-4A tournament championship at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the Bobcat Den.
Warren got a shot in early with an and-one, but Ki’Ayisa Moultrie’s 3-pointer was the Eagles’ only other field goal in a first quarter that ended with a 7-6 May River advantage. After the teams combined for only four field goals in the first quarter, they managed just five in the second, but Charlotte Van Den Heuvel got to the line and knocked down four free throws in the period to help the Sharks extend the lead to 18-10 at halftime.
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Scott took over in the second half, showing off her post moves and her power to fight through double teams and either finish or get to the foul line. She scored seven points in the third quarter as the lead ballooned to 29-18, then scored five more in the fourth to help hold off Warren and the Eagles.
Warren scored five points in the fourth, including her only triple of the night, but it was too late for the Eagles to close the gap. After holding the senior star to seven points last week, the Sharks limited her to 10 on Wednesday — nearly 10 full points below her season average. She scored 28 in the intervening game against Colleton County, and her previous season-low was 13.
“The key was to lock down Layla and (Moutrie),” Scott said. “We knew they were their top scorers, so if we locked them down, we’d be able to lock the whole game down.”
Sophomore point guard Macey Dowe was the primary catalyst in shutting down Warren and has run the offense effectively since taking on a larger role due to Ari Bevan’s injury. Dowe didn’t score Monday, but she was instrumental to the Sharks earning a third shot at the Bobcats.
Scott has scored 14 or more points in four straight games — and the Sharks have scored 38 or fewer in three of them.
“I’m working as hard as I can because it’s my last year with my seniors,” Scott said. “I want to go as far as we can.”
May River (11-4) closed the gap significantly on regular-season region champion Bluffton from a 35-14 loss on Jan. 5 to a 34-26 defeat on Jan. 29. The stakes will be high in round 3, as the winner gets the region’s top playoff seed and home-court advantage through the Lower State semifinals.
By Justin Jarrett