Just when it looked as if the Camden girls were going to end a frustrating season on a high note and with a two-game win streak, a once-dormant Chapin squad pulled the rug out from under the feet of the Lady Bulldogs.
Carrying a 39-26 lead into the fourth stanza, thanks to a 12-3 third quarter surge, host Camden was outscored, 25-8, over the final seven minutes of play by the Eagles who walked off the Michael G. Culp Court with a 51-47 victory.
The loss capped a 5-14 campaign for Natalie Jeffcoat’s troops which bid farewell to six seniors, five of whom started Tuesday’s contest.
"If the game could have ended there, that would have been really nice," Jeffcoat said of her team’s play in building a 13-point lead after three quarters. "But we play four quarters and we didn’t do very well after that."
Camden held Chapin without a field goal for nine minutes and 18 seconds, a run which started at the 3:15 mark of the first half and ended with a layin from Chapin’s Makenzye Whitmen at the 6:57 mark of the fourth quarter which touched off a 14-0 run.
The Lady Bulldogs aided the Eagles’ fourth quarter surge with four consecutive turnovers which led to six unanswered points as the visitors cut the deficit to 39-31 with 5:56 left in the contest. Chapin closed the gap to 39-38 following back-to-back 3-point jumpers from Whitmen and Hannah Davis, the latter coming with 4:17 showing on the game clock. When Olivia Chapman put back her own missed shot 22 seconds later, it gave the Eagles a 40-39 lead, their first since the 3:15 mark of the second quarter.
Camden took the advantage for the final time when Janai Crim took a feed from Treana Perry and went in for a layup and a 42-41 lead with 3:21 left
Chapin was not done, yet, though. Davis would knock down two of three free throws and follow with a 3-ball before McKenzie Currie’s putback returned the lead to the guests for keeps at 47-41.
This game did not end without a bit of drama as Crim took an inbounds pass and buried a 3-ball to make it 47-44 with 34.4 ticks left in the game clock. Down 48-44, Crim went inside for a putback, was fouled on the play and converted on the back end of the 3-point play to make it a one-point, 48-47, game with 20.8 seconds left.
Chapin salted this one away when Whitmen converted on three of four free throw attempts in the closing 19.7 seconds of play.
Jeffcoat said the combination of fourth quarter turnovers and Chapin’s hitting three treys in the final quarter of play were a death knell to Camden’s hopes.
"They got hot and, we lost our composure, a little bit," she said. "We weren’t really able to recover from that."
Camden, which was coming off its first Region 4-AAA win of the season after having knocked off Richland Northeast last Friday, trailed, 10-9, after a first quarter in which Chapin scored six points from the free throw stripe. The Eagles visited the foul line on 34 occasions on Tuesday, making half of their tries as they pounded the ball inside against the shorter hostesses.
"That’s, pretty much, been a recurring theme for us," Jeffcoat said of Camden’s opponents trying to exploit the inside and take advantage of her team’s lack of length. "We don’t have much size and that hurt us against tonight."
The two sides traded the lead on three occasions in the second quarter with a 15-foot jumper from Brooke Dixon knotting things at 23 with 1:25 to go before halftime. Audria Brooks took over from there as the senior ended the first 16 minutes by hitting a pair of short jumpers to send the Lady Bulldogs into the locker room with a 27-23 lead.
With Chapin going cold from the field and from the free throw line, Camden was able to turn a 31-25 advantage into a 39-26 lead after three quarters thanks to closing the third stanza on an 8-1 run. Crim, who led Camden with 14 points, and Jalathea McClendon split the scoring in the final two-plus minutes with Crim hitting a long jumper before adding a layin off the break. McClendon, meanwhile, had a stickback before closing the quarter by sending home a jumper from just inside the 3-point arc.
Camden, however, was unable to sustain its momentum in a fateful fourth quarter.
For the Lady Bulldogs, the loss capped a season in which they faced five teams which were ranked among the top 10 teams in AAA at one point in the season, including two losses to top-ranked Lancaster and one to second-ranked Orangeburg-Wilkinson. Also on the schedule were two games with sixth-ranked Lakewood, a pair with eighth-ranked Dreher and two versus a Lower Richland squad which spent most of the season included in the poll.
Jeffcoat said a victory on Tuesday’s Senior Night would have been a nice way for her team to have ended a rough campaign. Losing the way her team did made this loss even harder to swallow.
"It is a tough way to end," she said. "I thought that our kids played hard throughout a really tough season."
CAM (47):Dayajoi Belton 1 0-0 2, Kentrell Salmond 2 0-0 6, Jalathea McClendon 3 0-0 6, Treana Perry 1 1-2 3, Brooke Dixon 3 0-0 6, Ariyan Massey 1 0-0 2, Audria Brooks 3 2-2 8, Janai Crim 6 1-3 14. Totals: 20 4-7 47
Score by quarters:First: Cha, 10-9; Halftime: Cam, 27-23; Third: Cam, 39-26; Three-point goals: CHA 3 (Davis 2, Whitmen), CAM 3 (Salmond 2, Crim)