Despite entering its own tournament with a 3-4 record, the Burke Bulldogs used this week's Modie Risher Classic to establish some momentum into the new year.
Burke defeated Beaufort, 56-49, in Thursday night's championship game, building a 16-point lead and holding off a furious Beaufort comeback attempt in the final quarter. The championship was Burke's third straight in the event.
Burke posted its second win over a Class AAAA program in as many nights. The victory also avenged an earlier season loss to Beaufort, which lost for only the second time in 11 games this season.
The Bulldogs overcame a miserable night at the free throw line, making only 5 of 15 attempts in the fourth quarter.
"We did a great job in the third quarter of executing and doing the right thing, but we played poorly in the fourth quarter," said Burke head coach Earl Brown. "We made some mistakes and Beaufort hit some shots. The free throw shooting was really bad, and that's something we have to address. We had enough at the end to win the game."
Forward John Ross led the Bulldogs with 14 points, while forward Fedol Brown and guard Solomon Dukes scored 10 each.
Beaufort's Dymonte Gwaltney scored 11 points, all in the second half. Guard Simeon Daise also scored 11 points in the loss.
The Eagles came into the contest averaging 87 points per game in their previous two classic games but suffered through a cold-shooting first half.
Beaufort scored the first six points of the game, but Burke rallied to tie the game at 12 after one quarter.
Bakari Blunt's 3-pointer with 1:28 to play in the half gave Burke its largest lead of the half at 23-15.
Beaufort scored five of the last seven points down the stretch, leaving Burke with a 25-20 halftime lead.
Craig Williams drilled a 3 and Brown had a breakaway dunk in the opening minutes of the third quarter, pushing Burke's lead to 31-22 with 6:15 to play in the third.
The run continued as the Bulldogs built a 37-24 lead on Dukes' layup with 3:52 remaining in the third quarter. Brown's three-point play with 1:33 left pushed the lead to 45-28.
Beaufort, however, heated up in the final period. Gwaltney scored six straight points to open the quarter as part of an 11-0 run. Keith Alston's bucket with 6:20 to play cut the lead to 45-40.
Burke did not score in the fourth until a free throw by David Brown with 4:31 to play. Gwaltney's basket and free throw cut the margin to 47-45 with 2:43 to play in the game.
Ross answered with a layup and Scott hit a free throw, pushing the advantage back to five at 50-45 with 1:50 to play. Scott again went to the line with 1:16 remaining, hitting one free throw and Dukes added a free throw with 39 seconds to play, giving the Bulldogs a 54-47 lead.
Ross sealed the victory with a dunk with :03 left.
Modie Risher Classic All-Tournament -- John Ross, Burke, Most Valuable Player; Jordan Turkvant, Orangeburg-Wilkison, Most Outstanding Player; Jordan Adderly, Beaufort; Corey Jenkins, Greg Mathis; D'Angelo Evans, Garrett Tech; Ty Solomon, St. John's.