Bailey Buzzer Beater Boosts Bengals

Kenny McCray gets in a tangle over a loose ball. (Photo/Kristy Kimball Massey)

COLUMBIA – The Blythewood Bengals pulled out a heart-stopping victory over the Spring Valley Vikings Tuesday night when freshman guard Jacobi Bailey, who had tweaked an ankle earlier in the game, returned to hit a game-winning jumper from the right corner as the final buzzer sounded, giving the Bengals a 77-74 win.

With the game winning three, Bailey added his name to the total of five Bengal players to score double figures.

Blythewood head coach Zeke Washington’s game plan to attack the long front line of Spring Valley’s extended 2-3 zone worked when the Bengals needed it to, as both teams fought for footing in the contest.

The Vikings pushed the ball on offense and tried to get quick baskets in transition and set the tempo of the game. Blythewood was able to maintain their cool and executed on offense, taking advantage of the rebounding weaknesses that a zone defense presents.

The transition baskets gave Spring Valley a 21-17 lead to close the first quarter. Blythewood came out pressing in the second quarter and forced multiple turnovers from the Vikings.

As the second quarter wore on, Blythewood began feeding the post, getting the ball into the paint area for the high-flying Trae Churn to get the ball to the rim.

For a two-minute stretch in the second quarter, the Spring Valley gymnasium sounded like a wrestling bout as players from both teams rumbled and skidded across the floor, chasing loose balls. The aggressive tempo that Spring Valley set in the first quarter began to turn on them as Blythewood adjusted to the pressure by matching it with their own intensity.

But just when it looked as though the Bengals would pull away, Spring Valley reeled off an 8-0 run. Bailey went down with a twisted ankle a few plays later.

But Blythewood stayed the course.

They continued to move the ball well on offense against the zone, spreading the Vikings out and penetrating the lane with ease. Kenny McCray scored on a sneaky back door cut from the top of the key to give Blythewood the lead.

After some medical attention and a new tape job, Bailey returned to the lineup midway through the third quarter to hit a pull-up jumper from the wing to stretch the lead to 56-50.

Spring Valley never left their game plan either though, as they continued the pull the ball up the court and score in transition, but for every move made by the Vikings, the Bengals had a counter.

When Spring Valley worked the ball into the hands of 6-foot-7 forward, Jordan Bruner, Churn answered with a bucket on the other end of the court.

Spring Valley mounted one more attempt at a comeback, regaining the lead at 68-66 after hitting two free throws with 1:45 left in the game.

The Bengals beat the Spring Valley press for an easy layup and after a Viking turnover on their next possession, Blythewood stretched the lead to four points with just under 40 seconds remaining.

Bruner hit a three-pointer to cut the Bengal lead to one point. Bailey was fouled and converted one out of two from the line. This left the game tied at 74 with less than 20 seconds left on the clock. The Bengals forced a bad shot from the Vikings and pushed the ball up the floor. Keiwan Hammond controlled the ball as he cross half court and looked up to find Bailey wide open in the right corner of the court.

Bailey cocked, loaded and fired. As the ball left his hands, the gym fell silent for a split second. When it rattled home through the rim, the Blythewood side of the gym erupted as the drone of the final buzzer was drowned out in cheers from the Bengal faithful.

“I couldn’t be more proud of Jacobi tonight,” said Washington after the game.

“He’s a young player, but he gained a lot of experience tonight. He played like an upperclassman.”

The Bengals are now 1-1 in region play and will look to ride the momentum from this exciting win as they travel to Lugoff to take on the Lugoff-Elgin Demons on Jan. 17.

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