Redhawks clinch win in final seconds

BLYTHEWOOD – Ridge View’s Malcolm Wilson gave the Westwood basketball team fits under the net Friday night.

The junior 6-11 center blocked six shots and disrupted passing inside for three quarters, while the and the rest of the Blazers put the Redhawks in a 9-point deficit early in the fourth quarter.

Westwood’s only recourse was to shift to distance shooting.

Russell Jones Jr. (2) glides to the basket under Blazer pressure. | Leroy Howard

The Redhawks made good on four 3-pointers, and made a fifth basket just inside the 3-point line within five minutes.

Russell Jones Jr. scored the go-ahead basket with 1:46 left and then sank two foul shots as the Redhawks finished off a 60-57 victory over Ridge View before a loud crowd at the Westwood gym.

“We made some stops down the stretch and we made some shots,” Westwood head coach Jeff DiBattisto said. “But the big thing was is that no matter how much they’re down, they continue to fight and continue to accept coaching, so I’m proud for them.”

Wilson, who received an offer from the University of South Carolina and was getting looks from Clemson and several other universities, had six points and six rebounds on the night. Just his presence in the lane stopped several Westwood movements to the basket in the first half and the third quarter.

“When you have a 7-footer in there, you’ve got to adjust,” DiBattisto said. “He affects so many shots, and we wanted to take it at him, but you can’t go at him every time, he’s gonna block. We’ve got guys who can shoot it, and we had some shots that were open, and we’ve gotta trust our kids to make them.”

Westwood (13-5 overall, 5-0 Region 3-4A) won the first quarter 19-18, but the Redhawks could not slow down the Blazers enough in the second and third quarters. Walyn Napper and Brennan Bynum closed out the half with baskets to give Ridge View a 33-30 lead at the half.

Jones drained a 3 to even the score at 33 early in the third quarter, but the momentum settled clearly on the Blazers. Baskets from Javon Anderson and Crosby Harris-Jones, and a foul shot from Jones, gave Ridge View a 38-33 lead by the 5-minute mark of the third.

Tajay Dunlap and Kendall Wormack closed that gap with field goals, but a pair of Napper foul shots and a Wilson dunk allowed Ridge View to regain a 42-37 lead.

Jones sank another 3 at that point, but the Blazers finished the quarter leading 47-40 on three more foul shots and a Napper basket to set up the fourth quarter.

Bynum’s early shot in the fourth gave Ridge View a 49-40 lead 30 seconds into the fourth, but Westwood went to work from the outside for the rest of the game.

Wormack’s 2-pointer just inside the 3-point line started the cutting. After another Bynum bucket, Wormack sank a 3 to cut the lead to 51-45 at the 5:36 mark.

Joseph McKenny scored for the Blazers, but Ahman Green returned the basket, and Jalen Watson hit a 3 to make it 53-50 with 3:49 to go.

Wilson made another dunk, but Wormack’s 3 a few seconds later got the Redhawks within 55-53 2:45 left.

Napper’s putback with 2:12 left wound up as the last Ridge View score of the night.

A Dunlap 3 set up Jones’ steal and basket that gave Westwood a 58-57 lead with 1:46 to go.

Jones sank two foul shots, and as time ticked away, Ridge View had possession with eight seconds left.

Napper, who had three 3-pointers in the first half, took the ball, pulled up to the 3-point line, and launched a shot in the last seconds. The ball clanged off the rim to clinch the Westwood win.

“That was two very good basketball teams that played their guts out,” DiBattisto said. “We were lucky to come out on top. The thing that I keep going back to about our kids is that they never quit. They just continued to fight.”

Jones and Dunlap had 16 points apiece, and Wormack had 15 to lead the Redhawks.

RVHS – 18 – 15 – 14 – 10 – 57

WHS – 19 – 10 – 10 – 20  – 60

RVHS –  Walyn Napper 19, Crosby Harris-Hones 12, Brennan Bynum 10, Wilson 6 Jenkins 4, McKenny 3, Anderson 3.

WHS – Russell Jones Jr. 16, Tajay Dunlap 16, Kendall Wormack 15, Watson 6, Huff 5, Green 2.


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