AIKEN --- It didn't take long for South Aiken's clean region slate to get dirtied up a bit in the face of one of the top teams in the state.
The Thoroughbreds were thrown into the fire by opening their Region 5-AAA schedule Friday night against defending region champion Dreher, and South Aiken needed only a few minutes to realize the team to beat last season has held onto the title in 2010.
Dreher scored the first 14 points of the game in an 87-51 victory over South Aiken.
"They can shoot it," South Aiken coach Kelly Nichols said. "Normally kids at this age can do one of two things. They can drive or shoot it. Well, they've got kids who can do both."
The Thoroughbreds didn't have a chance on a night when Dreher's shooters were scoring at will. The Blue Devils' first missed basket came on their eighth attempt, and the team shot 60.4 percent (29 for 48) for the game.
Center Tyler Harris, the only true forward among Dreher's starting five, exploited the hole in the middle of South Aiken's 2-3 zone defense early with six points in the first 21/2 minutes. The Thoroughbreds adjusted to collapse down on the big man, but that just opened the perimeter for Dreher's sharp shooters.
Senior Dominic Boyd hit four 3-pointers and scored 11 of his game-high 22 points in the second quarter. Chris Brown hit three 3-pointers and converted on 7 of 8 free-throw attempts to finish with 20 points.
"By far, they're the best team in our region right now," South Aiken senior Joseph Rennhack said. "All we can do is get ready for the next time. At least we know what we have to do now."
Rennhack was the spark behind South Aiken's most productive second-half surge. The forward turned three offensive rebounds into six consecutive points in the third quarter. But it wasn't enough to damage Dreher's 45-18 halftime lead.
The Blue Devils, who shot 70 percent (14 for 20) in the first half and hit 10 of 12 free-throw attempts, still managed to make more than 50 percent of their shots in the second half with bench players taking up much of the playing time.
- The Lady Thoroughbreds fell behind 7-0 early and never recovered in a 66-35 loss.
Forward Tequila McNeal led three Dreher players in double figures with 20 points. Kyasia Youmans scored 14 points for South Aiken.
Reach Billy Byler at (706) 823-3216 or firstname.lastname@example.org.