Redhawks blast Richland Northeast

BLYTHEWOOD – An eight-day layover during winter break didn’t slow down the Westwood boys basketball team.

Unique Drake (5) gracefully glides to the hoop. | Leroy Howard

Russell Jones Jr. put up a game-high 21 points in just over one half of play, and the Redhawks blasted into Region 3-4A action Friday night with a 72-41 victory over Richland Northeast at Westwood.

Since going 2-0 in the Challenge portion of the Chick Fil-A Classic by Dec. 28, the Redhawks have stood down, seeing only a few practices since then.

“Games over the break are always hard,” Redhawks head coach Ty Baumgardner said. “You’re out of rhythm, no school. I’m a big routine guy, so games over the break can be difficult. But we tightened some things up and got ready for region play.”

With the game plan tightened up, the Redhawks could afford to play loose and relaxed.

Jones picked up 13 points in the first half, then got in a layup and drained two 3-pointers in the third quarter. Ta’Jay Dunlap had 14 points.

Jones and Dunlap had plenty of help around them as the entire roster saw some court time. Nine out of 12 men scored and 11 out of 12 men either scored or picked up a rebound or a loose ball.

Leading the way in the first quarter surge was Christian Horn. Horn had eight rebounds under both nets to keep the Redhawks’ up-tempo game going. He finished the night with six points and 11 boards.

“He goes and gets that thing,” Baumgardner said. “He’s got a nose for the ball.”

Westwood jumped out to an 8-2 lead, but the Cavaliers eventually crept within 15-11 with 2:47 to play. Dunlap drained a 3-pointer at the 2:32 mark and the Redhawks closed out the period with a 9-0 run to lead 24-11.

Ta’jay Dunlap (4) fights through the low post defense. | Leroy Howard

The Redhawks put more distance on Richland Northeast with an 11-2 scoring run to close out the first half. Westwood kept the Cavaliers scoreless in the final three minutes to go into the locker room with a 39-21 lead at halftime.

The second half was working on player combinations and giving the bench some playing time. Westwood didn’t miss a beat, with Santana Turner, Dunlap, Kendall Wormack and others coming up with enough points for the Redhawks to take a 62-32 lead on the Cavaliers.

“Games like this are a chance for us to see a lot of different guys play,” Baumgardner said. “Different combinations, and reward some of them for their work in practice. Every game over the course of the season isn’t gonna be like that. There’s gonna be games where seven or eight guys play. That’s just how it is at any level in any sport.”

At 16-0, Westwood is off to its best start in school history. The Redhawks are more focused on winning the next game, Baumgardner said.

“It’s nice, obviously and something that the kids’ll remember,” Baumgardner said. “But after tonight it means nothing. What we did tonight was great, but we’ll wake up tomorrow and we’ve got to get ready for another.”

The Westwood girls poured it on Richland Northeast as well. Unique Drake scored 23 points and Nyah Leveretter added 17 as the Redhawks breezed past the Cavaliers 67-20.

Westwood shut out the Cavaliers 20-0 in the third quarter to take a 53-14 lead into the final quarter.

Westwood is on the road at York Tuesday.

Westwood 72, Richland Northeast 41

RNE  – 11-10-11-9 – 41

WHS – 24-15-23-10 – 72

RNE: Durand Brown 10, Newell 7, Pratt 6, Cherry 5, Hall 3, Grayson 3, Montgomery 2, Anderson 2, Stinson 2, Jeffery 1.

WHS: Russell Jones Jr. 21, Ta’Jay Dunlap 14, Huff 7, Horn 6, Turner 6, Lewis 6, Wormack 5, Green 4, Savage 3.

Westwood 67, Richland Northeast 20

RNE – 5-9-0-6 – 20

WHS – 15-18-20-14 – 67

RNE: Macon 8, Eaddy 6, Thompson 4, Favor 2.

WHS: Unique Drake 23, Nyah Leveretter 17, Etheridge 8, Lockett 8, McCants 5, Wade 4, Scott 2.