By Thomas Grant Jr.

An All-Ridge View Lower State basketball final is now a victory away.

The Lady Blazers reached the Class 4A Lower State final following a 50-49 third-round road victory Wednesday over Bluffton.

Simone Johnson scored a game-high 29 points to lead the Blazers. Senior Lucia Bailey finished with six points, but it was her free throw with three seconds left that broke the 49-49 time.

Bailey missed the second attempt, but Amirah Brown’s desperation 3-pointer fell short.

The win sets up a third meeting with A.C. Flora at 6 p.m. on Feb. 28 at the Florence Civic Center. Ridge View swept the season series this year en route to winning the Region 5-4A title but lost to the Lady Falcons in last year’s third-round matchup.

Ridge View (21-8) took a 10-0 lead to open the season. It held Bluffton without a field goal until 5:53 left in the second quarter.

Johnson scored the first five points of the second quarter to take a 29-15 lead. The Lady Bobcats responded with a 21-3 run to take a 36-32 lead.

Amirah Brown scored nine of her 20 points during the comeback. Tacoya Heyward had eight points in the third quarter.

A 3-point play by Janiya Carter tied the game at 36-36 headed to the fourth quarter. A 3-pointer by Bailey kicked off a 7-0 run to open the final period, only to have Bluffton answer with a 6-0 run to close the gap to 45-43.

Johnson scored Ridge View’s next four points, only for Bluffton to get a driving layup by Brown and a running jumper by Heyward to tie the game with 26 seconds left.

On the final possession, Heyward was called for a reach in on Bailey. This sent her to the line for the game-winner.

The Ridge View/A.C. Flora winner will face either Riverside or Westside out of the Upper State in the March 2 final in Florence.

The Ridge View boys will travel to Florence on Thursday for the third-round matchup against defending Class 4A champion Wilson. The winner will face either Region 5-4A rival Westwood or James Island in the 8 p.m. game on Feb. 28.