NORTH AUGUSTA — Having needed late-game heroics to come from behind in recent outings, including a dramatic effort after being down 17 points in the opening round of the Class AAAA state playoffs against Richland-Northeast, North Augusta’s boys basketball team found out what it can feel like to get off to a hot start.
It can feel pretty good.
The Yellow Jackets settled head coach Al Young’s playoff nerves early this time, getting after second-round playoff foe West Ashley early defensively and out of the gate quickly offensively with 20 points in the opening quarter en route to a convincing 55-38 victory in a game they led from the outset.
Christian Davis led things off with a running jumper before Tavarez Hall made a pair of free throws. Malik Dunbar converted on a dunk that electrified the crowd and T.J. Sheppard drilled a three-pointer and West Ashley was down 9-0 before they had even gotten a clean look at the basket.
North Augusta improves to 19-6 overall and will play either Sumter or Bluffton in the next round of the playoffs on Tuesday. West Ashley ends the season at 20-5.
Defensively, the Jackets threw a little of everything at the visitors in the first quarter, deftly mixing various zone looks with up tempo pressure in both the full court and half court. And it appeared to put West Ashley into an ultra-conservative mode on offense, with tons of passes around the perimeter and little to show for the effort on the scoreboard with just 7 points at the end of the period.
North Augusta found itself in a mini-drought offensively at the start of the second quarter and West Ashley took advantage, trimming the Jackets lead to 20-14 on two straight layups by James Brown. However, the home team answered the challenge with a 9-0 run.