Eagles championship quest comes up short

Robert Cole For The Observer

March 3, 2014

SUMTER — The basketball season for Newberry Academy ended abruptly last Thursday in Sumter, as both varsity teams lost their semifinal matchups in the SCISA State Tournament. The varsity girls were beaten by James Island Christian 35-30, and the varsity boys lost to Myrtle Beach Christian, 50-46.

In the girls’ game, Newberry Academy got off to a slow start but was sparked by Emily Senn, who scored all seven of the Lady Eagles points in the first quarter. The game was knotted at seven at the end of the first period, but Newberry got things going on both ends of the floor, pushing out to a 17-9 lead late in the second quarter.

A late, first half surge by the Lions of James Island cut into the lead, but the Lady Eagles were still ahead at the half, 20-17. Both teams were unable to generate much offense in the second half, and each possession became magnified as the game wore on.

The Lady Eagles were kept alive by Darby Dail, who scored six of the team’s seven points in the third quarter. Late in the third period, James Island took a 26-25 lead, but Newberry Academy scored the final basket of the period and retook the lead, 27-26.

As the final quarter began, James Island found its offense and pulled out to a 32–28 lead with only three minutes remaining in the game. Dail scored the only field goal for the Lady Eagles in the final quarter, and it was not enough as the Lions closed the game out at the free-throw line. Senn led the Lady Eagles with 11 points, while Dail finished with 10 points.

Andie Getz had five points, and Carman Franklin and Kaitlyn Nobles each added two points. The Lady Eagles finished the season at 25-5, including an 18-game winning streak that ended at state. Next year, head coach Travis Gilliam will be without Nobles, Amanda Crayne and Kirsty Marr, who all graduate.

The varsity boys faced the Saints of Myrtle Beach Christian in their semifinal game. The Eagles started slow, and Myrtle Beach built an early 9-0 lead. Newberry Academy cut the lead to 11–6 by the end of the quarter, but were still struggling on offense.

The lead swelled to as much as 17 for the Saints, and the Eagles found themselves down, 28-13 at the half. In the third quarter, the Eagles slowly fought their way back into the game, trimming the lead to 10 points by the end of the quarter.

In the last quarter, Newberry Academy showed why they had such a successful season, as they battled for every loose ball and out-hustled the defending state champions. The Eagles pulled within six points early in the fourth quarter, and trimmed the lead to 4 points with four minutes remaining.

With less than a minute to go, the lead went down to three points, but the Eagles were unable to close the gap. The Eagles were led by Dylan Mackaben who scored 16 points, including 11 points in the second half. Jacob Epting had 10 points, and Ryan Smith had seven points. Other Eagles to score included Justin Suber with six points, Dylan Skipper with five points, and Luke Carraway with 2 points. The Eagles finished the season at 21-11, and graduate Epting, Suber, Smith and Sean Blanton.