Varner Tip-Off at Woodruff HS: Saturday’s Results
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For the second consecutive year, Prep Girls Hoops made the trek up to Woodruff HS to be on hand for that year’s Varner Tip-Off. And many of the teams that were there for this year’s version were similar to those…
For the second consecutive year, Prep Girls Hoops made the trek up to Woodruff HS to be on hand for that year’s Varner Tip-Off. And many of the teams that were there for this year’s version were similar to those we saw last year.
The event is named after Willie Varner – a revered name in South Carolina sports circles as he was once a legendary longtime football coach at the Wolverines.
Since it was a Saturday, it allowed for an early start to the proceedings. The first game took place at 10 a.m. Speaking of that first game – and the three others that followed it…
Greer Middle College vs. Laurens
The first game on the four-game card featured a 2A combatant against a team from the 4A ranks.
That 4A team in question was Laurens who participated in last season’s Varner Tip-Off as well. The 2A team that was competing in that first game was the Blazers of Greer Middle College – a team that participated in last season’s 2A state tournament but suffered an unceremonious first-round exit at the hands of eventual state champion Gray Collegiate.
Game one of four went the way of the Raiders as they got in the win column at Greer Middle College’s expense with the final score reading an emphatic 62-33.
Last Season’s Records
Greer Middle College finished last season with a 7-19 record and was a .500 5-5 in its region. The Raiders – whose only two victories from last season were against Broome and Woodruff, finished 2-18 (0-8 in region). The win over Broome took place in last season’s Varner Tip-Off – as well as losses to Landrum and Belton-Honea Path.
How Things Progressed
Two attributes among many defined the first eight minutes – both Blazers and Raiders being evenly matched and an opening stanza that was dictated by defense. It was not exactly the greatest of offensive clinics, but Laurens had a 9-8 advantage over Greer Middle College at the conclusion of one period.
Basketball is a game of runs and both Laurens and Greer Middle College embarked on runs in the early portions of the second quarter. The Raiders’ was 9-0 and the Blazers’ was 6-0. The shots fell more frequently than in the first quarter but with slightly greater frequency for Laurens as they took a 26-20 lead into halftime.
What appeared to be a game through the first two frames was all Raiders, all the time in the third quarter. By virtue of Laurens outscoring Greer Middle College by a margin of 12-2, the Raiders lead was 38-22 with one quarter left to play.
The contest was in the bag for the Raiders in the fourth quarter, but Laurens still put together one last late run to put an exclamation point on this one. The Raiders defeated the Blazers in emphatic fashion.
With a 20-point showing, the towering junior big that isgave the Blazers problems from start to finish. It continues to be said that there are plenty of things that can be coached – a 6-foot-1 frame is not one of them.
Laurens had to have Faith…and the Raiders had plenty of Faith on Saturday afternoon at Woodruff HS. Faith Jackson proved to be another key cog in the Raiders offensive machine as she tallied 14 points.
Another of the Raiders’ signature scorers on Saturday afternoon was a freshman. Keyoric Yeargin finished with 11 points. She spearheaded the Raiders’ late scoring run with Young and Jackson on the bench.
A nine-point effort courtesy of Tiyonna Jones was another exclamation point to what was a dominant Laurens game vs. the Blazers. She had two of the Raiders’ made triples for the contest.
Greer Middle College encountered plenty of hard luck from the 4A Raiders, but Ava Davis, a 2025, proved to be a bright spot for the Blazers. Her 12 points would lead all Greer Middle College point obtainers.
When play resumes on Monday, Laurens will see itself in a winner’s bracket matchup. Greer Middle College heads to the consolation bracket.
Landrum vs. Boiling Springs
Here are a couple of teams we at Prep Girls Hoops have particularly come familiar with through Landrum’s own Battle at the Border get-together staged just before the new year.
This one featured a 2A team vs. a 5A team. The Cardinals have been among the class of the 2A ranks as of late, being only a win shy of the state championship game two seasons ago. Landrum had wins in last season’s Varner Tip-Off against Laurens and Chapin but lost narrowly to Powdersville. As for the Bulldogs, they are entering the 2022-23 season with a new head coach in Breanna Ray.
That new coach’s first game at the helm at Boiling Springs proved to be unsuccessful as the Cardinals proved victorious over the Bulldogs with the final tally being 58-36.
Last Season’s Records
Landrum put together an 18-7 season along with going 8-2 in its conference. As for Boiling Springs, they were 7-18 and 0-8 in region.
How Things Progressed
As was the case with the first matchup between Laurens and Greer Middle College, both Landrum and Boiling Springs appeared to be evenly matched in the first quarter. Except the action with Cardinals and Bulldogs was much more uptempo than the Raiders and Blazers. It showed on the scoreboard as well as both teams were all knotted up at 15 after eight minutes.
The fortunes for the Cardinals began to improve as the second quarter wore on. When both teams entered their respective locker rooms for halftime, it would be Landrum with the eight-point, 30-22 edge.
Things began auspiciously for Boiling Springs in the third quarter as they placed the first six points on the scoreboard. It was 30-28 in favor of the Cardinals before Landrum scored 17 of the ensuing 19 points of the frame. Landrum’s lead began to look commanding as it was 47-30 with one quarter to play.
The lead for the Cardinals continued to grow – and the time left for Boiling Springs to potentially make a late run was dwindling. When all was said done in game two of four, Landrum proved victorious by a 22-point margin.
Cards nation had a front row seat to theshow that early Saturday morning. Cortez concluded the contest with a game-high 23 points. Included in those 23 were four 3-pointers – four of the seven Landrum had for the game.
struggled early on as she only had two points at the half. Brown found her scoring groove in the second half and contributed 10 points to what was a winning Landrum effort.
Also coming up big for the Cardinals was, completing what was another productive day at the office for Landrum’s big three. Fortner also finished with 10 points which included a pair of made free throws.
On the Bulldogs end of the ledger,led the Boiling Springs attack with 16 points. Those 16 were equally distributed between the first and second halves. Ezell was particularly effective near the rim and in the midrange game.
Anchoring the Boiling Springs attack from deep was senior small forward Natalie Trudel. She finished with eight points overall, but managed to sink a couple of threes. The Bulldogs had three overall for the game.
A battle of the winning L’s awaits as Landrum looks ahead to a winner’s bracket date with Laurens on Monday whereas Boiling Springs being in the consolation bracket means a contest with Greer Middle College that same day.
Broome vs. Chapin
It was time to get back to the court following a two-hour break in the schedule.
Here are two more teams that are familiar names from last year’s Varner Tip-Off as well. This one would feature a 3A team from the Upstate against a 5A competitor out of the Midlands.
The Centurions went 1-2 in last season’s Varner Tip-Off as it began inauspiciously as a result of defeats to Powdersville and Laurens but then scored a dominant victory over Greer Middle College. As for the Eagles of Chapin, they also went 1-2 but they began last year’s tournament with a win over Belton-Honea Path before losses to Woodruff and Landrum.
Between these two teams, it would be the Eagles who would begin their portion of this year’s Varner Tip-Off Classic with a victory as they defeated the Centurions by a final score of 49-31.
Last Season’s Records
The Eagles had a record of 8-14 last season in addition to going 1-7 in its very tough region. The Centurions also experienced hard luck in its region as well as they finished 2-6 in Region 3-AAA but 12-12 overall.
How Things Progressed
Just as the first quarter of Landrum and Boiling Springs would be all knotted up after the opening number, the same was true for Broome and Chapin. The two teams matched each other point for point. With one quarter in the books, the Centurions and Eagles were all knotted up at 11 apiece.
The last couple of games that were played that Saturday were close in the first half only to become routs in the second half. Would the same ring true for Broome and Chapin? Only 16 more minutes of time would tell with the Eagles going into halftime leading by a four-point, 24-20 score.
The third quarter was advantage Chapin – but not to the extent the earlier third periods were for Laurens and Landrum. One quarter remained in the third game of Saturday’s play with the Eagles leading 35-25.
It was somewhat ironic that both teams scored 11 points in the first quarter. Chapin’s defense, en route to the 49-31 victory, held the Centurions offense to 11 points in the closing two quarters.
Junior guardwas unavailable for the Eagles.
, a freshman 5-foot-5 guard was available and she led all scorers with 16 points. Freeman is a fearless rim attacker with a knack for drawing contact and getting to the free throw line.
was another key piece to the Chapin win late Saturday afternoon. She finished with 11 points. Among her strong points to her game is the ability to get to the free throw line as well as ball handling and knowing when to pass or score.
By virtue of a nine-point effort, junior Chelsea Fleming was the leading point-getter among Centurions. Broome as a team had three made 3-pointers for the game. All three departed from Fleming’s hands in the first half.
Chapin advances to the winner’s bracket and a matchup with Woodruff in the next round. As for Broome, the consolation bracket and a date with Seneca awaits on Monday.
Seneca vs. Woodruff
Of course, last but not least, it was time for the host school to take to the court.
And they did so against another 3A combatant in the Bobcats from Seneca, a tournament team from last season despite finishing 10 games under .500. In last season’s Varner Tip-Off, the Wolverines, also a state tournament team from last year, finished with a 2-1 mark. Woodruff began last year’s Varner Tip-Off tournament with victories over Greer Middle College and Chapin before a loss on the final day to Powdersville.
It would be host Wolverines that began the tournament in auspicious fashion as they proved superior over the Bobcats with the scoreboard reading 44-31 at the final buzzer.
Last Season’s Records
Woodruff finished 13-11 along with a stellar 6-2 showing against its region foes. As for the Bobcats, they were 7-17 with a 4-6 mark in its region.
How Things Progressed
For the first few minutes of the first quarter, both teams struggled to put the ball through the basket. Play was temporarily halted midway through the first quarter due to a left knee injury to senior guard Asia Green. Eventually, shots started falling – but more for Woodruff than for Seneca. The Wolverines protected their home court through one quarter, leading 11-4 after eight minutes.
Through the opening minutes of the second quarter, Woodruff’s lead expanded to 15-4, prompting a timeout from the Bobcats. The time called work as Seneca embarked on a 10-0 run that cut the Wolverines’ lead to the slimmest of margins. As halftime commenced, Woodruff would cling to a slim four-point advantage.
Bobcats vs. Wolverines was starting to stake a claim to being the best game of the four that took place. Woodruff HS appeared to have saved its best for last on Saturday. The Wolverines outscored the Bobcats 16-10 in the third stanza to up its lead to 36-26.
Eight minutes was all that was left in Saturday’s play at this year’s Varner Tip-Off Classic. When that first day had concluded, it was in similar fashion to what happened last year when Woodruff was also victorious in the final game of the first day.
Sophomore guardwas unavailable for the Wolverines.
As is the case often with Woodruff contests, the path to victory was paved by one. She finished with 19 points which led all scorers. Included in that 19 were four made 3-pointers.
The Wolverines were also the beneficiaries of a nine-point showing courtesy of sophomore power forward Jasmine McKnight. She is one who has no problems absorbing contact to get to the free throw line.
Another 2025 in Jordan Robinson also bolstered the Woodruff attack with an eight-point outing. All of McKnight’s field goals were of the two-point variety. Not to mention that production the Wolverines got from McKnight came off of the bench.
For the Bobcats, their offensive output was spearheaded by a pair of 8-point scorers. One of them was a senior in Mihayanna Strother. The upperclassman had one of the four 3-pointers that Seneca made for the game.
The other eight-point scorer was Ke’Ayara Jiviens. Seneca drained a total of four 3-pointers for Saturday’s contest against Woodruff. Two of those departed from Jiviens’ hands. As a junior, she is advancing into the veteran stage of her career.
Woodruff moves on to the winner’s bracket and a contest with Chapin when play resumes Monday. Seneca gets a berth in the consolation bracket that same day where they will take on Broome.