SUMTER — Women’s basketball coaches from UConn, South Carolina, Clemson, Florida, College of Charleston, Wake Forest, UNC Charlotte, Boston College and Furman were in the stands at the Sumter Civic Center on Friday night, and for good reason.
The Heathwood Hall-Northwood Academy SCISA girls Class AAA state semifinal featured the top two juniors in the Palmetto State, according to ESPN. Aja Wilson, Heathwood Hall’s 6-5 standout, is the No. 1 player in the state, while Northwood Academy’s 5-9 all-star Amber Campbell is listed as No. 2.
Wilson has quite a national reputation as well. She is the No. 1 prospect in the espnW HoopGurlz Super 60 for the class of 2014.
Both players had big efforts, impressing coaches such as Geno Auriemma and Dawn Staley. Wilson scored 21 of her game-high 33 points in the second half to lead the Highlanders to a 63-47 victory.
Campbell, who last month became only the ninth girl in state history to score 3,000 points in a career, scored 17 for the Chargers, who were seeking their fourth straight appearance in the championship.
“She’s just such a mismatch problem,” Northwood Academy coach Presley Singleton said of Wilson. “We didn’t have someone with her size, so I had to put my most athletic guard on her. I am asking so much of Amber to check Aja and score 30 on the other end.”
Heathwood Hall upped its record 20-7 and will play Pinewood in the state championship game. Tipoff is set for 6:30 p.m. today.
Northwood Academy closed out its season with a 26-5 record.
Pinewood defeated Heathwood Hall, 56-54, in last year’s state semifinal.
“This season, we probably surprised a lot of people,” Singleton said. “People knew we lost seven players from last season and they thought Amber is all we had. We scored 79 points a game and showed we are more than Amber. I couldn’t be prouder of my younger players. We had only two players who had playoff experience last year.”
Heathwood Hall (63): Ress 1, Harriford 2, Dickerson 8, Joseph 11, Wilson 33, Lefft 8.
Northwood Academy (47): Campbell 17, Powell 10, Andrews 8, Kappell 2, Davis 9, McQueeney 1.
Heathwood Hall 15 16 19 13 —63
Northwood 14 16 13 4 —47
Records: Heathwood Hall 20-7, Northwood Academy 26-5.