Rebel Rally Denies Lady Bengals

Boys Battle in Rock Hill Tourney

COLUMBIA – The Blythewood Bengals girls’ basketball team made it to the championship game of the Capital City Classic Monday night, but fell to the Hephzibah (Ga.) Lady Rebels 72-60 at Keenan High School.

The Lady Bengals controlled the game for the first three quarters, but the defensive pressure from the Lady Rebels wore down the Blythewood players in the fourth quarter and allowed Hephzibah to pull away at the end of the game to seal the victory.

The Lady Rebels were carried by the strong play of their backcourt. Emani Miller and Shannon Wimberly pressured the Bengal ball handlers and also produced much of the Rebels’ first half offense. Miller had 11 points at the half and Wimberly had nine points, all from three-pointers.

But even with the strong guard play of the Rebels, the Lady Bengals controlled the momentum and maintained the lead through the first half. Five Bengal players had scored by halftime, as the home team led 36-29 at the break.

The second half saw even more deadeye shooting than the first. Breelyn Blanding was able to penetrate the lane for most of the game and either dish the ball to her favorite post target, Brooke Taylor, or create contact from the shot and draw the foul.

Jasrial Thompson got the hot hand in the second half as well, connecting on multiple three pointers, stretching the Rebel defense even further into the backcourt.

Taylor picked up her third foul of the game with 14:03 remaining and Blythewood protecting a 40-31 lead. With Taylor’s size gone from the Bengal defense, the Rebel guards were free to penetrate and kick out for their shooters. Wimberly connected on back-to-back three-pointers and within a flash, the Bengal lead had been decimated to a mere point.

The three-quarter-court press of the Rebels forced a 10-second call, followed by another Wimberly three ball, and a Globetrotter-esque layup by point guard Shashanna Miller gave the Rebels a 52-42 lead with eight minutes to play.

The Lady Bengals were shell-shocked.

Multiple times down the stretch, the Lady Bengals missed put-backs and layups. Blanding hit a three from the corner on a in-bounds play to cut the Rebel lead to six points, but the Lady Rebels had an answer for any move the Bengals could muster.

The Lady Bengals left it all on the court, but came up shy of the tourney title.

Thompson led the Bengals with 16 points, including three three-pointers. Blanding had 15 points and no less than five assists.

Thompson and Blanding were also awarded all-tournament honors for leading their team to the runner-up position in the highly competitive tournament.

Boys

The Blythewood Bengals boys’ basketball squad, meanwhile, participated in the 2013 Lindberg Moody Holiday Tournament over the weekend, advancing easily through the first round with a 63-42 victory over Hickory Grove Christian, but fell to Riverside in the second round, 72-76.

The Bengals grabbed the momentum early against Riverside, led by the scoring of senior Kenny McCray and had a 16-13 lead after the first quarter of play.

The second quarter saw the Bengals stretch their lead even further, as Trae Churn as well as Eli Lake began to knocking down shots. The Bengals took a 37-26 double-digit lead into halftime.

The second-half however, would tell a different tale.

Whatever defensive adjustments made at halftime by head coach Murray Long and the Warrior staff worked to perfection as Riverside held the Bengals to only eight points in the third period while putting up 19 points of their own. The Warriors turned up the defense and forced the Bengals into rushed shots, bad decisions, and turnovers.

The fourth quarter was an offensive showcase for both teams, as Blythewood fought hard to climb back into contention, but the Bengals were never able to overtake the Warrior lead, falling short by four points, 72-76.

The Bengals had multiple players score in double figures, with McCray leading with 18 points. His three-point shooting kept the Bengals within striking distance at key moments. He also had six assists.

A pair of sophomores also contributed for the Bengals. Churn scored 15 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, while Lake racked up 14 points and seven rebounds.

Freshman Camron Womack scored 11 points, had four rebounds and a steal.

The Achilles heel for the Bengals in this game was turnovers, with Blythewood coughing it up to Riverside 20 times.

The Bengals are now 4-8 on the year and will look to get back on the winning track this weekend in their next game, Jan. 4, when they host the Rock Hill Bearcats.

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