The Fort Dorchester Girls basketball team defeated both of its cross-county rivals last week and clinched the Region 8-AAAAA championship in the process.

The Patriots finished their schedule with a 20-3 record and a 7-1 mark in region games to claim the region title outright. The 20 wins in a season is an all-time best for the program.

“Our seniors are excited because this is our first time winning a region championship,” Fort Dorchester forward LT LeShore said. “We’ve pretty much just been listening to our coach. Coach Champ has really helped us remain focused and made us more disciplined. We have also come together as a team and that has helped us push past adversity.”

Cez Champagne took over as the head coach for the Fort Dorchester Girls this year. She inherited a veteran team led by six seniors. Last season, the team advanced to the third round of the playoffs for the first time in school history so expectations are high this post season.

As the region’s top seed, Fort Dorchester will open the playoffs Feb. 12 by hosting Berkeley, the No. 4 seed from Region 7. If the Patriots defeat the Stags, Fort Dorchester will host a second-round game Feb. 15.

Fort Dorchester opened last week with a 59-49 win at Ashley Ridge. The game was tied at halftime, but the Patriots came out of the locker room fired up and outscored the Swamp Foxes 19-5 in the third quarter.

Sophomore Aujea Bowman led the Patriot offense with 14 points. LeShore added 13 points for the Fort while Reanna Young added 11.

The Patriots wrapped up their schedule with a 49-46 win Feb. 8 at Summerville.

Fort Dorchester took a six-point lead into the half, but the Summerville shooters hit several jumpers in the third quarter to give the Green Wave a 39-37 lead entering the final quarter.

It was anybody’s game in the final minute and the Patriots took advantage. Senior Au’Zhane Allard had the big bucket, which she scored after dribbling through multiple defenders and into the paint. After Summerville missed a shot on the other end, Allard hit a pair of free throws to give the Fort a four-point lead. Bowman then grabbed a loose ball in the closing seconds to put the game away.

Bowman finished with a game-high 15 points and Bricelin Balcer added 12 points for the Patriots.