Shortly after winning the 61-59 Class 5A First Round playoff with Stall on Tuesday, the River Bluff Women’s Basketball team posed for a photo off the team bench.
First-round wins are usually not appropriate for photos or celebrations. In the case of gators, it was a moment to remember.
The River Bluff ‘s victory was the first playoff win in school history. It was also the first time the Girls Program had organized a playoff game in the school’s seven-year history. The only other appearance in the Gators playoffs came in the 2014-15 season.
The post-season trip also came a year after The River Bluff went 0-21. The Gators have lost 29 games in a row this season.
The winning streak ended with a victory in the season opener against Silver Bluff. The Gators set a school record of 16 games, finishing 6-2 in the 5-5A region, both of whom lost to Lexington.
For three years, we’ve been trying to put in building blocks, said Riverbluff coach Jewel McKinney.
Last year was a difficult year for us. Many of these same girls played as a sophomore or a beginner.
They took a lump. But in his honor, they fought through it, worked hard, and did not disappoint them. They were the people who built the block for the future as well as this year.
He said that It’s probably a little better than I expected, but it’s proof of the players and the training staff.
McKinney said various factors entered into rapid change. He made some changes to his technical staff and said the team responded and approached the summer with camping and various team linking.
The victory over the Bluff was on 7 January when he beat Irmo, The No.2 in Class 5A, 57-52.
Senior Japonica Wilson and eighth-year student Samira Khalil made a significant contribution to this year’s team and the success of the Gators.
Wilson, who played the last two seasons for White Nord, was the region’s 5-5A Player of the Year. Tuesday night was his first playoff game.
Khalil was brought up to City from junior high school this season, scoring his second time after Wilson. Together with Reagan Rozier, they played an important role in their victory over Stall on Tuesday.
Next is a trip to the Gators’ Grand Strand, where they will face Carolina Forrest on Friday in the second round. Whether he wins or loses to the Panthers, McKinney feels that this year could be a future staple.
McKinney said that We are so young, there is so much growth as a group. Tonight, there are a lot of young girls who were part of this first victory. It’s great to understand with confidence and there’s a lot we can do if we keep working.