Category Archives: Sports


Jackets end Lions’ season in Upper State title game

By Bru Nimmons
Staff Reporter

GREER — Behind 32-23 and in need of two scores to regain the lead, the Daniel Lions were desperate for any points they could get when they 10 minutes to go against the Greer Yellow Jackets during Friday night’s Upper State championship game at Dooley Field.

The drive started disastrously, with quarterback Tyler Venables sacked back to the 3-yard line. However, Venables made up for the loss by moving the Lions out to their own 16 on fourth down. Despite being 84 yards from the end zone, Daniel head coach Jeff Fruster believed time had become too big a factor to punt the ball away, so the Lions went for it on fourth down.

“We were going to go down fighting,” Fruster said. “We knew we were running thin on opportunities, and as long as we had the ball in our hands, we felt like we had a good chance. We wanted to keep the ball in our hands one more time.”

Just one yard short of the first down, Venables took the snap, only to be stopped by a host of Yellow Jackets, ceding possession to Greer and leading to a 35-23 loss that dropped the Lions to 11-2 and ended their remarkable turnaround season a game shy of the program’s first trip to the state championship game since 2013.

“I think the record is indicative of what this class was capable of doing,” Fruster said following the loss. “I’ve said any manner of things about how proud I am of this group, and I think making it this far just goes to show you how talented a group this is. I told my whole team that this was not a shameful event. This is nothing to hang our heads about. We came and we played hard, and the better team won. That’s what it’s supposed to be.”

The fourth-down stop wasn’t out of character for the Yellow Jackets on

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Tigers wrap up fourth straight conference title, playoff berth

By Eric Sprott
Courtesy The Journal

CHARLOTTE, N.C. —Facing a fourth different opponent in as many years, the result remained the same for Clemson in the ACC Championship Game — a win, and with it, a berth in the College Football Playoff.

Following the second-ranked Tigers’ 42-10 victory over Pittsburgh on Saturday night at a dreary Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C., they were a virtual lock for the four-team playoff field, which was announced shortly after noon Sunday on ESPN.

Clemson will take on third-ranked Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl in

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Smith’s Flame continue building foundation for success

By Rocky Nimmons

PICKENS — In Year 2 of the Chad Smith era of Pickens High School football, the plan was to show improvement and reach goals.

Smith’s Wing-T offense is one that improves as young players gain experience and buys into the system, and that is exactly what happened in 2018. Smith’s methodical scheme is such a precise attack that the Blue Flame needed discipline and patience to make it work.

It also requires a defense on the other side of the ball to pace the game and stand tough against some of the most potent offenses in the state week in and week out. Defensive coordinator Eric Houston had his unit ready to play all year long, and the result landed the Blue Flame a spot in the Class 4A playoffs.

Pickens (4-7, 2-3) ended its year with a goal met, but plenty better days

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Wierzbicki named player of the year

PICKENS — Pickens High School’s Lexi Wierzbicki has been named the 2018 Region I-4A volleyball player of the year.

Wierzbicki, a senior middle hitter, led the Flame with 322 kills and 378 digs. She also recorded 81 blocks.

Wierzbicki was voted unanimous region player of the year for the third year in a row. She was a Region I-3A all-region selection in 2015.

Blue Flame standouts Sydney Bolding, Abigail Durham and Kaylee  Gillespie were also named to the Region I-4A all-region team. Bolding and Gillespie were also named to the 2017 all-region team.

Bolding, a senior middle hitter,  recorded 283 kills and led the team in

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Championship Bull Riding returning to Pickens every Saturday until March

PICKENS — For the eighth year in a row, Championship Bull Riding will return to Pickens this Saturday at the indoor arena located at 422 Ann St.

Championship Bull Riding will be held at the location every Saturday beginning at 7 p.m. each week through March 2019 and will feature junior amateur and open bull riding. There will also be calf riding and mutton busting.

Admission is $10 per person, with kids under 5 years old getting in free.

Those who would like to compete can get booked by visiting the indoor arena on Mondays from 7-9 p.m.

For more information, call Ernie Treadway at (864) 608-3807.


Lions beat Wren to advance to Upper State title game

By Bru Nimmons
Staff Reporter

CENTRAL — It seemed like it was going to be an easy night for the Daniel Lions in the third round of the Class 3A playoffs on Friday against the Wren Hurricanes.

Sure, rainfall and near freezing temperatures had made the game dreadful for those in attendance at Singleton Field, but the Lions took a 27-0 lead into halftime.

But the Lions’ fortunes changed drastically, as Wren scored lightning-quick back-to-back touchdowns to start the second half.

With the Hurricanes driving once more, junior defensive end Jared Kirksey finally put an end to the Wren momentum for good with a huge fourth-down stop, and Daniel cruised to a 36-14 victory to seal a shot at the Upper State championship this Friday night at Greer.

“That stop was huge,” Daniel coach Jeff Fruster said. “At that point, they had the momentum swing in their direction, and if we had allowed points on that drive they could have just kept moving.”

“It was a big stop for our defense,” added Kirksey. “We knew we had to go out there and do something big to stop them.”

The Lion defense did a remarkable job slowing down the Wren offense on the night, holding the Hurricanes to just 14 points and holding Mr. Football finalist Tyrell Jackson to just 32 yards passing and 25 on the ground before he left the game for good to end the first half.

“We know the caliber of athlete Jackson is,” Fruster said. “We know that he

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Clean Sweep

Tigers survive for fifth win in a row over Gamecocks, cap perfect regular season

By Alex Maminakis
Courtesy The Journal

CLEMSON — It wasn’t pretty, and Clemson’s defense struggled Saturday night against South Carolina and quarterback Jake Bentley, but the No. 2 Tigers pulled away in the second half to win their fifth straight game over the rival Gamecocks.

Clemson finished the regular season 12-0 for just the third time, but it had to earn a hard-fought 56-35 win against South Carolina (6-5) on a frigid, foggy night in Death Valley.

Bentley passed for a career-high 510 yards and a career-best five touchdowns, but Clemson accumulated 744 yards of total offense — its most ever against South Carolina — led by quarterback Trevor Lawrence’s career-high 393 yards passing and the Tigers’ six rushing touchdowns, led by Adam Choice’s three.

“That was an amazing performance by our offense,” Clemson coach Dabo

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Seeing positives

Stewart proud of Devils’ 2018 effort

By Clay Counts
Special to The Courier

LIBERTY — Although their season came to an end with a loss at undefeated Chester in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs, the Liberty Red Devils have much to be proud of heading into the offseason.

The 2018 season was one full of highs and lows, but through all those lows, the team gained valuable experience they carried over from week to week. Falling just short of the .500 mark with a 5-6 record, the Devils did accomplish a first in school history with their third consecutive trip to the

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Bolding MVP of North/South All-Star match

DUE WEST — The 2018 North/South All-Star volleyball match was played Nov. 17 at Erskine College.

Pickens High School seniors Sydney Bolding and Lexi Wierzbicki were chosen to play on the North team.

The North 4A and 5A teams were coached by Eastside High School coach Susan Meadows. The South squad was coached by former Pickens coach Jennifer Gravely, now the head


Daniel shocks defending state champions in double overtime

By Bru Nimmons
Staff Reporter

ROCK HILL — The Daniel High School football team racked up yards by the hundreds with ease throughout this fall, but on Friday night, the fate of the Lions’ season rested on three measly yards.

Those three yards were all that stood in the way of Daniel picking up the biggest win of third-year Lion coach Jeff Fruster’s career — a road victory against four-time defending state champion South Pointe in the second round of the Class 4A playoffs.

The Lions trailed the powerhouse Stallions for much of the night, but fought and clawed their way back to force the game into overtime. There, it all came down to one play.

After answering a South Pointe touchdown in the second overtime period

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