For the second year in a row, the Marlboro County High varsity boys' basketball team are region champs.
Last season, their final one in Class AAAA, the Bulldogs claimed the title with an 8-2 conference record, one game ahead of Myrtle Beach. The team went on to the third round of the state playoffs, where they fell to A.C. Flora.
This year's championship required a little help from Lakewood High School. The Gators defeated their cross-Sumter rival Crestwood Friday night in the season finale. That game secured the title for the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs will host the second place team from Region 5 on Saturday night at 7 p.m. The opponent will be either Orangeburg -Wilkerson (who MCHS defeated in the first round last year) or Brookland - Cayce. Those teams played Wednesday night with their region title at stake. The results were not available at press time.
Marlboro County had an opportunity to wrap up the championship on their own last Wednesday night but fell to Crestwood on the road, 57-55.
The Bulldogs led early but a second quarter scoring slump allowed the Knights back into the game. Marlboro trailed by one at the half.
The teams battled through a high-scoring second quarter and the Bulldogs took a four-point lead into the final minutes. However, they were out-scored 6-0 down the stretch with Crestwood's Justin Rembert hitting a shot with 43 seconds for the game winner.
Dre Scott led the Bulldogs with 24 points. Keon Adams had 8 points, Prince Johnson 8, Kieran Leviner 7,Tyler Thomas 3, Caleb Brown 3 and Kamare Alford 2.
The win left Crestwood, Lakewood and Marlboro County tied with one loss in region games.
With only two region playoff spots being available this season, the region race came down to the Friday game between Lakewood and Crestwood.
Lakewood's victory gave the Bulldogs the title, since Marlboro County had defeated the Gators on February 5.
The Bulldogs finish the pandemic-shortened regular season with a 7-2 record. If they are victorious Saturday night, they will play the winner between Bishop England and the Region 7 runners-up on Wednesday, February 24. If Bishop England wins this first round game, they will be the hosts.