For the First Presbyterian Christian Academy Highlanders, the magic number was 43. Game 44 ended the team’s winning streak with a 2-point loss in overtime to Lancaster High School on day three of the Sweet 16 Tournament in Orangeburg, S.C.
Lancaster hit the net to go up 84-82 and, as Highlander coach David Jones said, “The clock just ran out on us.”
“We did a great job of rebounding and shot the ball extremely well,” he said. “Everything was good except the clock management.”
The coach said his boys led for most of the game, but credited the Bruins for their ability to hit three-pointers even better than Faith Baptist, another team Jones said has an uncanny knack for trey shots.
“They were shooting threes that were closer to the bleachers than the three-point line,” he said. “Not even hesitating, just pulling the trigger and going up, checking the light bulbs and dropping them through the net.”
He said his boys were exchanging scores with the Bruins.
“But we were exchanging twos for threes because I wanted to go inside and the kids did what I asked them to do,” he said. “We went inside instead of trying to live on the threes.”
Lancaster, a Region AAAA school and a final four team from last season, had a deeper bench than the Highlanders, and Jones said his team became leg weary toward the end.
“They are a very good team and they earned the win,” Jones said. “Naturally, you don’t want to lose, you always want to win. The thing about going undefeated is, it’s a nice crown to wear, but I think we’ll learn quite a bit from this game and one of those things is we got a little careless in managing the clock.”
The coach said Highlander Hakeem Golden had an outstanding showing throughout the tournament and DJ Felder turned his game up a notch.
Although they lost the last game of the tournament, the Highlanders won first place due to points. They defeated Orangeburg-Wilkinson 66-40 in game one, and beat Orangeburg Prep 90-45 in game two, giving them the highest point differential in the tournament.
“I’m proud of our team and I would have been happy to have won the game,” Jones said. “But I’m not crying about it.”
The Highlanders are on track for a third state title and will get back to business at Monday’s practice.
Next Friday, the Highlanders re-match Faith Baptist in Ludowici before hitting the region circuit.