The Keenan girls team continues to build toward a dynasty, despite the challenges of a peculiar season.
MiLaysia Fulwiley scored 26 of her game-high 30 points in the second half as Keenan cruised past Southside 70-36 Monday night in the Class 3A Upper State title game at Newberry High School.
The Raiders will be making their fourth straight appearance in the state final, and fifth in six years. Keenan has won two of the past three titles.
The only team standing in their way now is Bishop England, a 48-27 winner over Orangeburg-Wilkinson. The Bishops are the only team to defeat Keenan in the playoffs the past four seasons, winning in the final in 2019. They will play Friday afternoon at USC-Aiken at 4 pm.
“I’m kind of happy but then again I’m kind of used to it,” said Fulwiley, ranked No. 3 in the country by ESPN HoopGurlz recruiting rankings for Class of 2023. “I’m just trying to get ready and not get the big head and go in there and do what we do best.”
As much as Fulwiley dominated the second half, it was the play of her teammates that kept the Raiders (17-2) in control in the first half. Fulwiley picked up her second foul with 3:30 remaining in the first quarter. Keenan had an 8-3 lead at that point, but Southside (12-2) trimmed that deficit to 10-8 by the end of the quarter.
Keenan coach Reggie McLain never hesitated in putting Fulwiley back in to start the second quarter. She only finished with four points in the half but her steadying presence made it easier for her teammates to pick up the slack. Tamyra Davis hit two 3-pointers and scored 8 of her 10 points in the first half while Ashari Lewis added six of her 10 points to help Keenan to a 25-14 lead at the break.
“I’m very proud of my teammates for stepping up like they always do,” Fulwiley said. “I had to play my role when I got back in the game and I felt like I did.”
Fulwiley hit a 3-pointer on the opening possession of the second half, a preview of what else to come. She connected on five 3-pointers in the second half. When she wasn’t dialing it up from long-range, Fulwiley was driving the lane and scoring in a variety of ways that delighted the crowd on both sides.
“We stayed in her ear and just kind of told her to keep her head in the game and keep playing. “The shots will start falling and the plays will start coming,” McLain said. “She got out of her rhythm after picking up that early second foul. She settled in the second half and had a good game.”
Keenan: MiLaysia Fulwiley 30, Tamyra Davis 10, Ashari Lewis 10, M. Johnson 6, Oree 6, Price 3, Griffin 2, J. Fulwiley 2, S. Johnson 1.
Southside: Lorick 9, Evans 7, Grant 6, Thompson 5, Williams 4, Young 3, Nolan 2.