The final of the Porter-Gaud Holiday Classic will be an all-Lowcountry affair after the host Cyclones held off Westchester Country Day of Wilson, N.C, 69-61, in a semifinal matchup on Saturday night.
The Cyclones (7-1) will take on Charleston Collegiate in the final on Sunday at 4:30 p.m.
Porter-Gaud senior KJ James scored 31 points and senior center Michael Preddy added 15, and the Cyclones connected on 11 of 13 free throws in the final quarter to secure the victory.
"We knew it would be a battle because they are a very talented team," said Porter-Gaud coach John Pearson. "Their one-on-one skill ability and their ability to pass the basketball make them very difficult to defend. I'm proud of our guys. We had to withstand some runs and we survived."
After taking a 27-22 lead at the half, the Cyclones opened up a 46-35 lead with 2:20 to play in the third quarter. Westchester closed the quarter with an 8-3 run to pull within six heading into the final quarter.
Leading, 49-46, Porter-Gaud used an 11-1 run to open up a 60-47 lead with 3:10 left in the game, only to see Westchester freshman guard Tyrece Cheek score 11 straight points, including three consecutive 3-pointers to close the gap to 62-58 with 1:50 to play.
The Cyclones, however, hit five free throws in the final minute to hold on to the victory.
"It wasn't so much us letting them back into the game as those guys just making shots," said Pearson. "They never let up and they got hot there late. We held on and made our free throws. If we don't shoot well at the line, we probably lose this game."
Justice Cuthbertson led Westchester with 22 points while Cheek added 16 points, 14 coming in the fourth quarter.
Charleston Collegiate did its part in getting to the championship game, defeating Northwood Academy, 67-56, in the other semifinal matchup.
Senior forward Je'Quan Perry followed up Friday's 25-point effort with 24 points on Saturday, while junior Manny Smalls scored 22 and senior guard Ty Solomon added 10.
The Sun Devils improved to 7-1, avenging their only loss of the season to Northwood Academy earlier this month.
"We know they are well-coached and they have good players," said Pearson of Charleston Collegiate. "They will have a plan and we need to be ready to play."
Academic Magnet will meet Orangeburg Prep in the final of the girls bracket at 3 p.m. on Sunday.
Academic Magnet's Cara Pugh scored 15 points to lead the Raptors to a 52-26 win over Ashley Hall, while host Porter-Gaud lost to Orangeburg Prep, 44-40.
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