All the air, and the drama, seemed to get sucked out of the gym at once when Childersburg sophomore Jada Swain buried a 3-point shot with almost four minutes remaining in Tuesday night’s game.
TC Central point guard Faith Johnson’s response was almost instantaneous after the ensuing timeout. Johnson left the Childersburg defenders grasping at air as she knocked down not one but two baskets in quick succession.
After her second shot, one of the Childersburg players on the bench couldn’t help but blurt out, ‘Oh my God.’ Johnson had already scored 16 of her eventual 18 points.
“You have to crowd her so much to make that jump shot contested, she is able to go by you at times,” Childersburg coach Gavin King said. “She’s also got great vision. … She creates a lot of problems on defense, especially if you want to go, man.”
Despite Johnson’s heroics, Childersburg secured a 47-39 win over TC Central (8-6) thanks in large part to a huge fourth quarter from eighth-grader Kamareona Simmons, who drained not one but two 3-pointers in the final 2:34 of the game.
Simmons’ first shot came in direct response to Johnson’s quick four points and extended the Childersburg (12-8) lead back to nine points. TC Central rattled off another 4-0 run in less than a minute, but Simmons was there once again with her second 3-point shot.
Simmons finished with eight points and five steals. Those numbers might have been higher had she not earned three early fouls while guarding Johnson.
“The sky is the limit for her. … She’s learned how to play with fouls,” King said while praising her defensive efforts. “There’s been a lot of games where she’s been in the fourth quarter with three or four fouls, and very rarely has she actually fouled out.”
Despite holding Johnson scoreless for the first quarter, both teams were tied with eight points. Johnson scored five points in the last two minutes of the first half to tie the game at 19, but Childersburg took a 21-19 lead at the buzzer.
Lakenya Swain finished with a game-high 19 points and was the only girl from either team to score each quarter. She also grabbed eight rebounds.
TC Central’s Amiya Sillmon also finished with double figures on Tuesday.
In fact, eight of her 10 points came in the second half as she emerged as a real problem for Childersburg around the rim.
King said his team would try to carry over momentum gained from the team’s third consecutive victory when Childersburg travels to Saks on Thursday. The winner of that game will take the lead in area play.
TC Central also has a big game on Thursday night. The Tigers will hit the road to face a Winterboro team playing as well as anyone lately. The Bulldogs won the first meeting Friday, 51-48.
“I wouldn’t say that we were not prepared,” TC Central coach Ebonie Ferguson said when asked about the last meeting with the Bulldogs. “Maybe just a little shocked. Because we’ve had teams pressure us man-to-man, but not when we’ve got two people going at Faith.”