LMA’s Swampcats took possession of the basketball game in the second quarter and didn’t look back in defeating Heathwood Hall’s Highlanders to win the State AAA Championship, 51-35, on Feb. 25, at the Sumter Civic Center.
Heathwood Hall took the tip off and scored two points on their first possession. LMA answered 15 seconds later with two points of their own. The Highlanders came back and scored two unanswered baskets before the ‘Cats added another basket at the 5:22 mark in the first quarter. A bad pass by LMA allowed Heathwood Hall to score an uncontested layup to go up 12-7. Then LMA got the fans into the game with a long pass above the basket from Terence Crump to Kalum McIntyre who slammed the ball in for two to cut the Highlanders lead to 12-9. The first quarter ended with Heathwood Hall up 14-11.
Less than one minute into the second quarter, McIntyre drained a three-pointer to tie the game at 14 all. At the 5:11 mark in the second quarter, Will McNair drilled in three from the left corner to put the Swampcats in the lead for the first time, 17-14, a lead they never relinquished. McNair found his mark again 15 seconds later with another three-pointer to increase the ‘Cats lead to 20-14. Jeremy Byrd dropped in two points followed by McIntyre who hit a short jumper from the top of the key to maintain LMA’s lead, 24-18. With 2:26 left in the first half, Byrd scored two from under the basket. The ‘Cats successfully ran out the clock to end the half up, 26-18.
The second half started off slow. LMA scored the first basket of the second half at the 6:37 mark in the third quarter to put the ‘Cats up 28-18. Heathwood Hall answered with a three-pointer. Twenty seconds later, McIntyre answered with a three-pointer of his own to make the score, 31-21. McIntyre drained another three at the 2:55 mark in the third quarter to put the ‘Cats up 38-23. Heathwood Hall scored four unanswered points to end the third quarter down, 38-27.
Almost two minutes were off the clock before the first points of the fourth quarter were scored. Ryan Anderson scored on a layup to give the ‘Cats a 13-point lead. The Swampcats pulled away in the fourth quarter outscoring the Highlanders 13-8 to win the State AAA Championship, 51-35.
McIntyre led Swampcat scorers with 15 points followed by Byrd with 13 points. McNair dropped in 10 points, Anderson added seven points, Crump had four points and Mark Pipkin had two points.
Anderson and McIntyre were named to the AAA All-Region Team.
“They played an awesome game,” said Will Epps, head coach for the State Champion LMA Swampcats. “They played really hard. They shared the basketball. They played terrific basketball defensively and offensively. It was a great effort by the entire team.”
“This is what every high school basketball player dreams of,” Epps said. “Winning a state championship.”