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Goose Creek Lady Gators claim state basketball title with 54-34 win over Wade Hampton

The Goose Creek Lady Gators entered the preseason ranked first in the state. Friday night, they ended the season ranked first with a 54-34 win over Wade Hampton.

Ericka Broughton, who signed on at the College of Charleston next year, spent the second half of the season on the bench, sidelined with an injury. But the Gators responded to their leader on the bench, and haven't lost since the year started, wrapping up the season at 26-1.

Led by senior guard and future Charlotte 49er Mariah Linney, the Gators have won every game except for their lone loss by double digits.

In the Lower State Finals, the Gators finally had a challenge through the first half. But Shayla Nelson's big night had a double-double with 22 points and 13 rebounds on her 16th birthday Friday night.

At the start of the second half, the Gators started to pull away and Linney took over. The Gators opened the second half with a 7-0 run. Wade Hampton barely got the ball up the floor in the early minutes.

Linney was named the Stingrays Player of the Game, finishing the night with 13 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 steals.

It was a taste of their season as a whole, winning by an average of 30 points per game.

The Gators are a perennial power in girls basketball, but the last state title for Tim Baldwin's bunch was back in 2010.

The Goose Creek Lady Gators were the first of three Lowcountry teams vying for a state title in Columbia this weekend. The Burke High boys and the Bishop England girl both play on Saturday.

All 10 SCHSL state title games air live on MyTV Charleston from Colonial Life Arena.

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