Bengals push past Lower Richland

Tre Jackson separates the solid defensive effort. | Ross Burton

BLYTHEWOOD – The Blythewood boys’ basketball team got off to a strong start in its second game in a week against Lower Richland, but the Diamond Hornets got within one point of taking a third-quarter lead Tuesday night.

Fortunately for the Bengals, Tre’ Jackson kicked his team’s up-tempo game into gear in a 14-2 scoring run, and Blythewood was able to hold off LR again, this time with a 58-50 victory at the Bengals gym.

“We did a better job of playing our game this time,” head coach Zeke Washington, whose team beat LR 77-65 last week in Hopkins. “But down the stretch we got sloppy. We need to do a better job of holding onto the basketball.”

Blythewood (6-1) eased on to a 21-13 lead going into the first quarter, thanks to two 3-pointers from Jackson and Mike Williams—the only two 3s of the game for the Bengals—and 13 total points for Jackson in that quarter.

Lower Richland’s strength at the half-court eventually slowed the Bengals down. The Diamond Hornets (2-3) outscored Blythewood 11-7 and the Bengals clung to a 28-24 halftime lead.

When third-quarter action opened up, Amari Smith’s 3-pointer and Korey Richardson’s steal and basket got the Diamond Hornets within 30-29 with over five minutes to play in the third.

From that point, Jackson stepped up and snuffed the rally cold.

He followed up with a basket on Blythewood’s next possession with a theft and a 3-point play to make it 35-29. A bucket from Travis Thompson, another from Jackson, and yet another from Justin Phillips gave the Bengals a 41-31-lead.

Two more baskets from Jackson, followed by a Markel Samuel foul shot gave Blythewood a comfortable 46-31 lead at the end of the 14-2 scoring run.

Blythewood closed out the third with two more baskets from Thompson and a transition basket from Jackson to take a 52-34 lead into the fourth quarter.

“We’re a better team with what he does for us,” Washington said of Jackson, who finished the night with 29 points and eight thefts. “He just goes out there and gives us a lift. We’re fortunate to have him.”

Blythewood kept at least a 10-point distance on the Diamond Hornets throughout the fourth quarter, until two late 3-pointers from LR high scorer Dajon Townsend closed the gap to eight points late in the game. Townsend had 16 points on the night.

The Bengals will need to more than just a few sparks to its full-court game Friday, when it plays host to Ridge View. The Blazers, led by two-sport star Walyn Napper, are ranked second in the state and gave the Bengals their only defeat of the season, an 89-70 loss Nov. 30.

“They’re nationally ranked, or I think they should be,” Washington said of the defending Class 4A state champions. “But this is our house, and we’re going to play hard.”

Lower Richland  – 13-11-10-16 – 50

Blythewood – 21-7-24-6 – 58

LR: Dajon Townsend 16, F. Archie 9, M.Archie 7, Smith 5, Richardson 4, Huff 4, Kenney 3, Hicks 2.

BHS: Tre’ Jackson 29, Thompson 8, Philips 7, Williams 6, Shephard 4, Range 2, Hardy 1, Samuel 1.