Porter-Gaud rolls past Orangeburg Prep in playoff opener

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It took about two minutes for Porter-Gaud to grab complete control of Saturday’s SCISA AAA playoff opener against Orangeburg Prep.

The Cyclones jumped out to an 8-0 lead and led 35-9 after the first period en route to a convincing 72-25 win over the Indians.

Porter-Gaud improved to 19-7 overall on the season and advances to the AAA quarterfinals against Pinewood Prep on Wednesday in Sumter. The Cyclones and Panthers, longtime region 2-AAA foes, split two regular-season matchups.

Porter-Gaud head coach John Pearson was able to use his bench early and often in the game. The Cyclones led, 49-17, at halftime.

“It’s great for the morale at this time of year when everyone can contribute,” said Pearson. “The starters were on the bench cheering hard for those other guys and that’s great to see. It was a solid team effort all the way around.”

In all, 11 players scored for the Cyclones, led by Shane McCravy’s 17 points. Sophomore wing Aaron Nesmith added 13 points.

Orangeburg Prep finishes the season at 5-23. The Cyclones entered the game as the heavy favorites, but Pearson was pleased with his team did not overlook the Indians.

“At this point in the season, every game is important and we don’t look past anyone,” said Pearson. “I was pleased to see that our team came out focused and did what they had to do. We prepared for the game as we do every game and we wanted to take control, which we did.”

Pearson says the matchup with Pinewood Prep on Wednesday promises to be as closely contested as many of their past battles.

“It’s a rival and we’ve had some great games over the years,” said the coach. “We know each other so well so it should be a great game. I know both teams will be ready to play. It’s win or go home.”

First Baptist hoped to join Porter-Gaud in the quarterfinals, but a late game rally fell just a little short for the Hurricanes, who dropped a 59-57 decision to Ben Lippen in a game also played at Porter-Gaud.

The Hurricanes rallied from an 52-41 deficit in the final three minutes of the game, tying the game on a Michael Dukes 3-pointer with four seconds remaining in the game. Dukes, however, fouled Ben Lippen’s Ryan McCray on the inbounds pass with 1.7 seconds left. McCray netted both free throw attempts to seal the victory.

Kai Rivers led First Baptist with 17 points while Dukes added 13. The Hurricanes finish this season with a 16-10 record. Ben Lippen advances to play Northwood Academy on Wednesday in Sumter.

Charleston Collegiate and Cathedral, both number one seeds in the Class A SCISA playoffs, posted easy victories on Saturday. Charleston Collegiate will play on Tuesday at Heathwood Hall against the winner of the Holly Hill Academy/Faith Christian contest.

Cathedral will play Tuesday at Wilson Hall in Sumter against the winner of Saturday’s Dorchester Academy/Newberry Academy game.