Catawba Ridge’s Zyan Hager looks to pass the ball during the Copperheads game at Northwestern Friday. Photos by Angela Holt.

ROCK HILL – Lance Barnes and Zyan Hager combined for 35 points to lead Catawba Ridge to a 56-46 win over Northwestern Friday night, a victory that hands the Copperheads their first outright Region basketball title in program history.

Last year, the Copperheads had to share a region title with Lancaster. But this year, Catawba Ridge stands alone at the top of the Region 3-4A standings after finishing the regular season with a 22-3 overall record and 9-1 region record.

“It’s a great feeling,” said Catawba Ridge head coach Brett Childers. “I’m really happy for the guys. We set some goals early in the season, and this was one of them. We didn’t want to share with anyone. It’s great to get that berth into the playoffs and our first outright region title.”

The Copperheads led by three after the first quarter and turned on the jets in the second. Barnes, who led with 20 points, and Hager, who added 15 points, combined for five baskets midway through the quarter to help the Copperheads secure a double-digit lead.

But the Trojans fought back with a long jumper by Jaylan Moore and back-to-back treys by Theron Young and Jackson Wilson in the final two minutes to cut the lead back to just three by halftime.

Catawba Ridge fought hard to get into the paint and shoot contested layups. But Ryland Meszares and Wilson nailed another pair of back-to-back treys to cut the lead to just three with one last quarter of basketball to play.

The Copperheads took an 11-point lead to start the fourth quarter, thanks to five free throws and a fast break layup by Hager to push the lead to 45-34.

The Trojans responded with two more treys by Mitchell and Young to limit the bleeding. Mason Mitchell missed a wide-open dunk opportunity a minute later, and the chance eventually broke for Barnes to convert a short layup on the other end to push the lead back to 51-42.

“(Barnes) has continued to be a great force for us,” Childers said. “Everything flows through him, defensively, offensively, communication. He works so well, and he has great chemistry.”

Catawba Ridge converted 8-of-11 fourth-quarter foul shots to hold off the Trojans in the final stages.

“We needed one more tonight to get this locked away,” Childers said. “I’m super proud of these guys, they’ve experienced ups and downs in the season. Now it’s one-game seasons, one-game wars. There are no easy games in the playoffs. … This is the ultimate stage.”

Catawba Ridge will host Wade Hampton, the No. 4 seed out of Region II, in the first round of the state tournament Wednesday, Feb. 14.

Catawba Ridge finishes season winning two straight

The Lady Copperheads secured a No. 3 seed in the upcoming 4A state tournament with a comfortable 56-35 win over Northwestern Friday evening in Rock Hill.

Senior Morgan Davis led all scorers with 26 points to help Catawba Ridge improve to 8-17 overall and 6-4 Region 3-4A earning a playoff spot. Despite picking up three fouls before halftime, Copperheads head coach Sheridan Pressley had faith in Davis to start the second half.

Davis repaid that faith by scoring all five of Catawba Ridge’s buckets in the third quarter to juice a 25-10 run that guaranteed the Lady Copperheads an important region win to close out the regular season.

In typical fashion, the hard-working Davis secured her 1,000th point of her career with five minutes left in the fourth quarter by driving to the basket, absorbing contact, and nailing a foul shot. The Catawba Ridge bench erupted following the basket.

Davis is the first player in girls program history to reach the historic milestone.

“At the end of the day,” Pressley said. “She’s someone who brings a lot of energy to the team. I can trust the fact that she can go in there and not foul. Her impact is incredible. Her effort is unmatched.”

Catawba Ridge shot out to a 12-4 lead to start the game, powered by an 8-1 run midway through. Taylor Reilly, who finished with 18 points, scored her team’s first six points to keep pace.

But Northwestern’s sophomore point guard Autumn Linen and senior Christen Boyd combined for three layups in the final 90 seconds to cut the lead to two at the end of the period.

The pace slowed significantly in the second quarter as both teams resorted to powering their way to the basket and earning fouls. Catawba Ridge shot 16 foul shots in the second quarter, scoring six of them to extend its lead to 20-14 at halftime.

Davis picked up her third foul with just a minute left in the second quarter, but Pressley continued to play her team’s leading scorer to start the second half.

Addison Cunningham scored 15 points and Brooks Dority nailed back-to-back 3-pointers to push the Catawba Ridge lead to 20.

Catawba Ridge led by at least 20 points for nearly the entire fourth quarter.

With Lancaster’s home win Friday night against Indian Land, the Bruins secured the No. 2 seed behind first-place South Pointe, and the Lady Copperheads leapfrogged Indian Land for the third spot.

Pressley said her team is focused on one game at a time.

“I think that’s been our motto,” she said. “We can’t dwell on the past. We’ll continue to string wins together, and hopefully set ourselves up for a good playoff run.”

Catawba Ridge will play on the road in the first round of the 4A state tournament Tuesday, Feb. 13.

Morgan Davis goes up for a shot during the Copperheads game at Northwestern.
Morgan Davis is the first Lady Copperhead in school history to score 1,000 career points. Photo by David Thackham.