Class A Boys Basketball Playoffs
SUMMERVILLE -- Estill dominated first-round opponent St. John's and second-round foe Lamar by 36 and 38 points, respectively, in this year's Class A boys basketball playoffs.
But that certainly wasn't the case Tuesday night against Burke in the third round.
The Bulldogs halted the Fighting Gators' 15-game winning streak with a 61-57 triumph in front of a boisterous crowd at the neutral site of Ashley Ridge High School.
Things went about as well as they could for Burke in the first quarter. Craig Williams set the tone early, draining a 3-pointer 17 seconds into the game, and John Ross' nine points within a 3-minute span keyed the Bulldogs' 15-2 advantage heading into the second period.
Estill pulled within 25-19 heading into the locker room at halftime.
"That's about as good as it can get," Burke coach Earl Brown said of his squad's powerful first quarter. "And I think that was the difference in the ballgame. We just figured that we had to come out and do what we do. We're a pressing team, so we know what it's all about. As long as we didn't let them get us in a rush mode, we would be alright. So we just took our time and made them work."
The Bulldogs (21-7) never trailed in the contest, although they did let a 12-point fourth-quarter lead slip to 57-55 with 1:50 remaining. But Burke hit 4 of 6 free throws in the game's final minute to secure the victory and a spot in the Lower State championship game against C.E. Murray, which beat Carvers Bay 71-47, at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.
And the Bulldogs won't have to travel far; the contest will be played at The Citadel's McAlister Field House.
Ross finished with a game-high 23 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the floor while connecting on 7 of 10 free throws. As a team, Burke hit 40 percent of its field goal attempts (19 of 47), including 5 of 12 from beyond the arc.
The Fighting Gators (22-3) attempted 71 shots in the contest and were led by Louis Williams' 20 points.
"It gets tougher every ballgame," Brown said, looking ahead to Saturday's game. "We're going to have to put in a harder two to three days than we did these past two to three days."