Bengals Shock Vikes, Advance to Quarters

Trae Churn delivers the goods over Spartanburg High. (Photo/Ross Burton)

BLYTHEWOOD – For the first time in basketball head coach Zeke Washington’s tenure at Blythewood High School, the Bengals are advancing to the quarterfinals, thanks to a 57-52 victory over the Spartanburg Vikings on Saturday.

It was a victory that nearly slipped from the Bengals’ grasp as they faced a 12-point deficit halfway through the third quarter, but were able to outscore Spartanburg 22-11 in the final frame to catapult themselves to the next round of the state playoffs.

Both teams put on a scoring clinic in the first quarter with Spartanburg gaining a slight edge, 18-14. Trae Churn poured in nine of his team-high 17 points to help Blythewood keep pace early in the contest. Scoring for both teams nearly approached a crawl with Spartanburg and Blythewood netting eight and five points respectively as the Vikings took a 26-19 lead at halftime.

Spartanburg continued to stay out in front of the Bengals early in the second half, and halfway through the third quarter the Vikings established their largest lead of the game at 36-24. Just as it seemed the Bengals were starting to fade, sophomore Jacobi Bailey came in off the bench and buried a 3-pointer to ignite an 11-5 run to end the third quarter and pull the Bengals to within 41-35.

Bailey carried the hot hand into the fourth quarter when he knocked down another 3-ball, which he followed up with a 2-point jumper. Bailey scored all 10 of his points in the second half and finished second on the team in scoring. Spartanburg hit a free throw to stay ahead 42-40, but Churn made a lay up to give the Bengals their first tie since the first quarter.

Churn followed it up with a free throw and the Bengals took the lead and never looked back. Josh Bowers made sure of that as he scored his only five points of the contest in consecutive fashion with two free throws and a shot from beyond the arc to help strength the Bengal advantage.

Trailing late in the ball game, Spartanburg was forced to foul with 30 seconds remaining in regulation and Blythewood was able to put the game on ice from the line as they hit their final five free throws to win 57-52.

With the victory, Blythewood (18-10, 6-4) will advance to play the Wade Hampton Generals (21-0, 14-0). Wade Hampton is ranked second in the state and took the top spot in Region II-4A. Wade Hampton averages 69 points per game and give up an average of 53 points per game.

The Bengals put up an average of 63 points per game and allow an average of 59 points per contest.

Winter weather forced the quarterfinal matchup to be rescheduled from Tuesday to Wednesday at 5 p.m. The winner will advance to the semifinals to play the winner between Spring Valley and Hillcrest.

SH: 18-8-15-11 – 52

BH: 14-5-16-22 – 57

Individual Scoring – Blythewood: Keith Matthews 7, Josh Bowers 5, Keiwan Hammond 5, Eli Lake 3, Tyree Lee 2, Khalil Harris 6, Donovan Leach 2, Jacobi Bailey 10, Trae Churn 17. Spartanburg: Tavaris Scott 18, Mike Murphy 12, Cam McKennedy 4, Coleman High 8, Ronnie Miller 10.

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