Back in late December, with his team sitting at 5-5, Summerville girls basketball coach Matt Legare had a feeling that his team would turn things around.
While others had doubts, Legare felt the pieces were in place for another deep run this season. As it turns out, the coach was right.
The Green Wave won their 15th consecutive game on Tuesday night, knocking off James Island, 64-36, in the first round of the lower state class AAAA state playoffs.
Senior point guard Ashley Green scored a season-high 27 points while junior forward Jordan Sprueill added 17 points and 18 rebounds to lead Summerville to its 20th win of the season.
“This group has a little bit of a chip on their shoulder,” said Legare, now in his fifth season at Summerville. “When we were 5-5 and still trying to figure it all out, I think people sort of gave up on us. But the girls, they knew our potential. We just needed some time to get on the same page.”
While the final score would indicate a blowout, the game was actually very close for most of three quarters. James Island, making its first playoff appearance in 12 years, trailed by two after the first quarter and was down, 27-20, at the half.
With less than two minutes remaining in the third quarter, Summerville was clinging to a 36-31 advantage. But the veteran Green Wave went on a 17-4 spurt over the next four minutes and put the game away.
“We knew this would be a tough game because we had seen them play earlier this year,” said Legare. “We knew they could neutralize some of the stuff we do, but we were able to force some turnovers. We didn’t have a great shooting night, but we were able to find other ways to score.
“I thought we played pretty well overall, and at this point, all that matters is winning and moving on. You just have to find a way to win and we were able to do that. We won by almost 30 points, but it sure didn’t feel like it.”
James Island finished the season with a 14-10 record, and second-year coach Jeremy Holland says the playoff experience will pay off in the long run.
“We only have two seniors so this was a great experience for all of the younger girls,” said Holland. “We competed hard but we just ran out of gas. Summerville is very good with their pressure and we just had too many turnovers. But I am very proud of this team. We accomplished a ton this year.”
Summerville advanced to the Lower State finals a year ago before losing to eventual state champion Dutch Fork. Legare feels this year’s team is capable of a similar run.
“We have some experience on the floor and that makes a huge difference in the playoffs,” said Legare. “We’re a different type team, but we’re playing our best basketball right now so we’re excited to see how far we can take this.”
Summerville will host White Knoll — a 40-35 winner over Socastee — on Friday night.
Summerville (64) – Ashley Green 27, Jordan Sprueill 17, Aldridge 7, Capers 6, Mazyck 2, Gibbs 2, Harley 2, Goodwine 1.
James Island (36) – MaKayla Stanley 11, Ellis 8, Robinson 6, Tillman 4, Williams 3, Boatwright 2, Gardner 1, Costa 1.