Bengals fall short in Phenom Palmetto Winter Classic

COLUMBIA – Through two games and three quarters of its time in the Phenom Palmetto Winter Classic, the Blythewood boys basketball team seemed on track and ready to cruise into the holiday break on a confident note.

That fourth quarter in the Palmetto Bracket’s championship game ground all of the Bengals’ momentum to a halt.

Down throughout the game, and trailing Blythewood by 9 points going into the final stanza, Morgan County (Ga.) exploded on a fast-paced attack that netted 3-pointers, transition baskets and more than a dozen foul shots. When the buzzer sounded, the Bulldogs had rallied for a 77-66 victory over the Bengals.

“We just gotta find a way to win those games. It’s tough,” Blythewood head coach Zeke Washington said. “It’s a lot of reasons, but we just didn’t get it.”

Morgan County (11-1) outscored the Bengals 32-12 in the final quarter, running the floor, forcing foul shots, and hurrying Blythewood’s shots at the basket. The Bengals only field goal in the fourth quarter was Mike Williams’ shot with 10 seconds left in the game.

Blythewood (11-3) got 22 points from Tre’ Jackson. Julian Phillips, Williams, and Travis Thompson also scored in double figures, but the Bengals found no fourth-quarter solution for Morgan County’s Alex Woodard.

Woodard had 31 points on the night, 15 of which came in the fourth quarter. Woodard had just one basket: the Bulldogs star drew so many fouls in the lane that he was 13-for-14 in free-throw shooting in that quarter.

Blythewood used a 12-4 scoring run in the second quarter to take a 30-19 lead, but Morgan County trimmed it to 32-25 by intermission.

A.J. Brown’s 3-pointer opened the scoring for the Bulldogs in the second half, but the Bengals took a 46-42 lead after a 14-4 scoring run by the 3:30 mark of the third.

From that point, Blythewood and Morgan County traded shot for shot, but the Bulldogs began chipping away with 3s and a couple of transition baskets.

Blythewood opened up the fourth quarter with Thompson hitting the first of two foul shots to give the Bengals a 55-45 lead. The Bulldogs stepped on the gas from that point, and while the collision of two up-tempo games made for a blur of action up and down the court, Morgan County did the most damage from the free-throw line.

“We just didn’t find a way to win,” Washington reiterated. “We gotta find a way to win against teams of that caliber. We have a lot of things to work on. I’m trying nothing real crazy, but we have a lot of things. When you’re a team you’ve got to play for everybody.”

Blythewood dismissed Heathwood Hall 42-29 in just one half of play to open the tournament Thursday night. The game was cut short because of water dripping from the ceiling onto the gymnasium floor.

“It was going to be a safety issue with the kids ,” Washington said. “Both coaches felt that you just can’t justify kids playing on a wet floor, and you can’t keep it dry.”

The Bengals kept Lincoln Charter close behind in the second game Friday night. Blythewood used the game to work out combinations of starters and bench players, which meant that Lincoln stayed close behind but never ahead.

With a 31-21 lead going into the second half, the Bengals absorbed a long-distance Lincoln Rally—four 3-pointers to open the third. A Levontae Knox basket got Lincoln tied 35-35 with Blythewood at the 3:02 mark of the third.

A Jackson basket 17 seconds later kept the Bengals ahead, but Lincoln never pulled close. Blythewood closed the game out with five foul shots from Travis Thompson and Jackson.

Jackson scored 22 points to earn game game MVP honors.

Blythewood played host to Westwood Wednesday and travels to Hartsville Thursday.

 

Game 1(only two periods played)

Blythewood 42, Heathwood Hall 29

BHS – 23-19 – 42                   

LRHS – 15-14 – 29

BHS: Julian Phillips 15, Jackson 8, Williams 5, Hardy 4, Range 4, Thompson 4, Manuel 2.

Heathwood Hall: Isaiah Caldwell 15, Carraway 6, Hall 6, Bell 2.

 

Game 2

Blythewood 57, Lincoln Charter 50

Lincoln Charter – 12-9-17-12 – 50

BHS – 19-12-10-16 – 57

Lincoln Charter: Knox 16, Gabriel 12, Holm 12, Fulton 8, McCall 2.

BHS: Jackson 22, Julian Phillips 11, Thompson 5, Manuel 5, Hardy 4, Williams 4, Moore 3, Shephard 2, Range 1.

 

Game 3

Morgan County 77, Blythewood 66

BHS – 17-15-22-12 – 66

Morgan County – 12-13-20-32 – 77

Blythewood: Tre’ Jackson 22, Julian Phillips 15, Mike Williams 13, Travis Thompson 11, Range 3, Isreal 2.

Morgan County: Alec Woodard 31, Tyrin Lawrence 19, Steven Greene 13, Brown 8, Huff 2, Causewell 2, White 2.