Hornets Shock ‘Hawks in Heartbreaker

Demonte Jacobs (2) hooks in the reverse layup. (Photo/Ross Burton)

BLYTHEWOOD – The Diamond Hornets of Lower Richland High School nipped the Westwood Redhawks in an exciting, and sometimes frustrating, region match-up Tuesday night. Ultimately, Lower Richland surged ahead in the final seconds to take the victory, 51-48. The loss was the first region loss for Westwood, and the first loss, outside of a tournament, for the team.

Westwood head coach Terry Dozier had a healthy respect for his opponent. “Tradition, that’s what they have and what we are trying to establish,” Dozier said. “They have three key players, Richardson, Washington and Stroman (son of girl’s head coach, Debbie Stroman.) Richardson is very crafty. Washington is a slim guy, but he gets in there and gets some things done. We need to play our game with energy and keep them to one shot per possession.”

A more even game in every respect would be hard to find. Tuesday night’s game was one game where it was unfortunate that someone had to lose. In the first period, each team scored 11 points. In the second, Lower Richland had a slightly higher total. Those even periods of play gave no hint of what was to come in the final two periods. Those periods made the game well worth the price of admission.

Lower Richland rallied in the early going of the third period, and managed to gain a 10-point advantage over Westwood, thanks to a three-pointer by Stroman and a couple of Westwood turnovers. With 3:10 to go in the third period, Dozier and the Redhawk team sensed that things could go no further without giving up their chance at victory. Demonte Jacobs hit two three-pointers in a row to narrow the Hornet lead to within five points. A steal by Westwood and what appeared to be a last-second basket narrowed the lead even more. Then one of the strangest things ever seen in basketball happened.

One referee called the field goal invalid, causing great disruption on the Westwood side, to include the whole crowd and the coaching staff. Dozier was yelling at the officials, who appeared not to be in full accord to the disallowed basket. For reasons unclear to anyone on the court, the Westwood player whose basket was disallowed was given two free-throws, similar to a technical foul. The player managed to sink one of his to shots to close the gap to within three.

Right at the beginning of the fourth quarter, Westwood scored three the hard way to tie the game. But as in the third period, the game started to slip away from the Redhawks with five minutes to go. The score stood at 45-37. Some of the defensive tactics that had served Westwood so well were now working against Westwood, among them, forcing the team to shoot from the outside.

Two three-pointers by Antonio Wright and some good rebounding narrowed Lower Richland’s lead to just three points, and with 3:16 to go in the game, it was tied, 47 all.

The Hornets got another big break when a clear jump ball was called as a foul on Westwood. After hitting one of the resulting foul shots and a follow-up field goal by Westwood, the score was 48-48. With one minute showing on the clock, Lower Richland held onto the ball with the clock ticking away. This questionable tactic almost cost Lower Richland the game, as a Westwood player stole the ball. He didn’t score, but did get fouled in the process. Unfortunately, he missed both shots and Lower Richland caught the rebound. The Hornets scored with 10 seconds to go, and the game ended 51-48.

Westwood will travel to A.C. Flora on Friday night (Jan. 17) in a region contest.