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Zay Ballenger scored 22 of his career-high 27 points in the fourth quarter Tuesday night, and host Berea shook off a slow start to defeat Travelers Rest 83-66 in a semifinal of the Greenville County Tip-Off Tournament.
The Bulldogs, ranked fifth in Class AAA in the preseason, will play Eastside for the championship at 4:30 p.m. today at Eastside.
With Xavier Terry leading the way by hitting three 3-pointers, Travelers Rest jumped out to a 20-6 lead after one quarter.
Berea (2-0) rallied behind Dorian Hashim, who scored 10 of his 16 points in the second quarter and enabled the Bulldogs to tie the score at 32-32 by halftime.
“They were very poised,” Berea coach Jeff Maness said. “We’ve got seven seniors and a lot of experience. They just kind of weathered the storm, kind of like, ‘Let’s get this over with. Now we can play.’ "
In the fourth quarter, Ballenger scored on a drive to tie the score at 55-55. Then he nailed a 3-pointer, was fouled and completed a four-point play.
“The 3-pointer and one was huge,” Maness said. “Then it was just fun to watch him after that.
“He played football this year, so he didn’t have that preseason time, but he’s our guy. He’s always been that spark plug and a real leader for us.”
Andrew Van Norden scored 14 points for the Devildogs (1-1), and Terry and Jason Crumley pitched in 12 points apiece.
“I thought we played good for about three quarters and two minutes,” TR coach Josh Mills said. “We did a pretty good job all night of keeping them in front of us. Then we didn’t for the last six minutes.
“I feel pretty good about where we are. We’ve only had three practices with these guys because football ran so late. We really don’t have any chemistry. We’re going to learn.”
In the first game of the night, Frankie Thomas, Grayson Reames and Keshaun Myers each scored 10 points to lead Mauldin to a 64-53 victory over Blue Ridge.
Tamaje Green scored 18 points, Luke Boalt 14 points and Devin Stokes 11 points for the Tigers (0-2).
Berea 83, Travelers Rest 66
BEREA: Je. Duffin 5, Zay Ballenger 27, Young 8, Hawthorne 5, Ja. Duffin 8, Nicholson 3, Dorian Hashim 16, Williams 5, Lewis 2, Gordon 4.
TRAVELERS REST: Harvey 7, Xavier Terry 12, Andrew Van Norden 14, Jason Crumley 12, Philpot 3, Satterfield 2, Burnside 4, Fields 4, McMorris 6, McKinney 2.
Half: 32-32. Records: Berea 2-0, TR 1-1.
Mauldin 64, Blue Ridge 53
MAULDIN: Frankie Thomas 10, Wilson 2, Grayson Reames 10, Langdon 6, Jackson 4, Keshaun Myers 10, Coleman 8, Nolan 5, Campbell 9.
BLUE RIDGE: Jenkins 4, Tamaje Green 19, Devin Stokes 11, Brower 1, Luke Boalt 14, Williams 4.
Half: Mauldin 32-26. Records: Mauldin 1-1, Blue Ridge 0-2.
Woodmont vs. Blue Ridge, noon
J.L. Mann vs. Mauldin, 1:30 p.m.
Riverside vs. Travelers Rest, 3 p.m.
Championship: Eastside vs. Berea, 4:30 p.m.