Blythewood sweeps A.C. Flora

COLUMBIA – It took all of Blythewood’s speed and Tre’ Jackson’s ability to get the Bengals past A.C. Flora Friday night.

Alexis Mims (20) out maneuvers her defender.

In the girls game, Blythewood kept the good times rolling with their third straight victory.

After the Bengals took out the Flora girls 57-46 to improve to 5-7 on the year, the Blythewood Boys held off D.J. Sinkler and the Falcons 78-69 in a wild game to complete the sweep at the Flora gym.

“Our kids just gutted that one out,” boys head coach Zeke Washington said. “Tre’ Jackson just hit some unbelievable shots. It helps to have one of the best players in the state. That makes your coaching job a little bit easier.”

Jackson scored 31 points with four inside baskets, five 3-pointers and was 8-for-9 from the free-throw line to lead the Bengals (9-2). Julian Phillips’ and Travis Thompson’s presence under the net really saved the Bengals from falling behind. Phillips had 12 points and 11 rebounds, while Thompson had 19 points—six inside baskets and a 7-for-8 performance at the foul line—coupled with nine boards.

“Travis Thompson handled the ball well, and Phillips helped us a lot,” Washington said. “We had a kid Ross (Isreal, who had two points but some key rebounds late in the game) who came in and handled the ball well.”

Blythewood’s 27-point first quarter ordinarily would have knocked out most teams out, but Flora stayed close behind, thanks to Sinkler’s 34-point night that included seven 3-pointers scattered throughout the game.

“I think our kids did whatever it would take to win the game,” Washington said. “We cut our rotation down, we couldn’t play as many people as we wanted to, but we had to do what we had to do to survive.”

The Falcons (5-5) had all the patience to outlast the Bengals’ fast attack. After going into the locker room at the half trailing 43-39, A.C. Flora went to work in the third.

Travis Thompson (12) glides down the baseline | Ross Burton

One Sinkler 3 gave the Falcons a 45-43 lead at the 6:40 mark—which lasted maybe half a minute, when Jackson stole a loose ball and drove into the lane for a game-tying layup.

Sinkler’s second 3 of the quarter came soonafter, and had A.C. Flora up 48-45 at about the 5-minute mark.

While the Falcons could erase the deficit against the Bengals, they could not hold a lead.

Halfway into the third quarter Travis Thompson got an inside basket to cut A.C. Flora’s lead to 48-47. Soonafter, Jackson drew a 3-shot foul and sank all three free throws. Two more foul shots, from Thompson, got the Bengals up 52-48 with 4:16 left in the third.

While the Falcons were never far behind, Blythewood never looked back. The Bengals finished the third quarter leading 60-54, then edged the Falcons 18-15 in the final stanza to close out the victory.

“It just happened to work out that way. I’m just happy that we won,” Washington said. “It was something we had to do to get by, and the kids did well.”

For the girls team, one that went “three and forever” in the standings last year, the Bengals are enjoying the upbeat feeling of building on a winning streak.

“They’re getting more confident than they have been in the past,” Blythewood head coach Steve Inabinet said. “As long as we put a little effort and energy, they’re showing up on the scoreboard and they feel pretty good about themselves.”

The Bengals (5-7) never fell behind on Flora. Up 13-9 going into the second quarter, they blasted the Falcons 21-8 to take a 34-17 lead into halftime.

Alexis Mims led the way with 17 points. Kalei Swanier had 16 points and Emiya Galman had 12.

“Alexis has led the way for us this year,” Inabinet said. “She can’t do what she does every night, but we’re glad to have her.”

The Bengals, who have just two seniors, one junior, and six sophomores on the team, have improved in recent weeks, Inabinet said.

“It’s a process, and we’re not there yet,” he said. “We still have a lot more that we need to work on, but the tenth graders have really stepped up, and we’re hoping that the progress continues.”

Inabinet has a lot of confidence in the way the Bengals are improving.

“For the past week, practices have been really good,” he said, noting that from a coach’s perspective, the girls are ready to begin to win. “They’re listening to us now, they’re trusting us. We’re trying to sell a product, and we have to have them buy in.”

The Blythewood boys head to Ben Lippen Schools Thursday to open the Palmetto Winter Classic. The Bengals play Heathwood Hall at 5:30 p.m.

The girls will play in the District 9 Tournament at Lee Central High School in Bishopville beginning Dec. 28.

Boys

Blythewood 78, A.C. Flora 69

BHS-27-16-17-18 – 78

Flora-20-19-15-15 – 69

BHS: Tre’ Jackson 31, Travis Thompson 19, Julian Phillips 12, Michael Williamson 10, Range 4, Isreal 2.

Flora: D.J. Sinkler 34, Robert McCray 15, Jamison 5, Moore 4, Butler 4, Iriel 4, Gibson 1.

Girls

Blythewood 57, A.C. Flora 46

BHS-13-21-10-13 – 57

Flora – 9-8-18-11 – 46

BHS: Alexis Mims 17, Kalei Swanier 16, Emiya Galman 12,Weeks 8, Jones 3, Wooten 1.

Flora: McKinley Brooks-Sumpter 15, Chastity Simons 11, Laronda Quattlebaum 10, Williams 4, Richmond 2, Eargle 2.