The Blythewood – Irmo rivalry continues

BLYTHEWOOD – Blythewood’s Region 4-5A opener against arch rival Irmo went just about as expected Friday night.

Tre Jackson (3) stares down the defender as he takes off to the hoop. | Ross Burton

In front of the WACH Fox 57 cameras at the Blythewood gym, the rematch of last year’s lower state finalists ended in just about the same manner as the matchup at the Florence Civic Center.

Both high-speed offenses collided under the nets. Both teams went shot-for-shot in the fourth quarter that had eight lead changes before the Yellow Jackets kept one point better than the Bengals.

When Irmo’s Travez Caldwell missed a foul shot with four seconds left, Blythewood’s Julian Phillips scooped up a rebound to give the Bengals one last shot. Unfortunately for the Bengals, Phillips pass to an open teammate went out of bounds and Irmo took possession to close out a 46-45 victory.

“They just beat us,” said Blythewood head coach Zeke Washington, whose team lost 49-48 in the lower state final thanks to a last-second tip-in from Irmo. “They out-toughed us. I know that’s a hard pill for some to swallow, but they did. We (the coaches) only watched film for seventy-five hours, and we told them that.”

Tre’ Jackson led all scorers with 19 points, Phillips had 13 points, and Travis Thompson scored 12 clutch fourth-quarter points despite having three fouls on him that kept him unavailable for most of the game.

“Travis played big,” Washington said, “But we didn’t have it for most of the game.”

Those top three Blythewood scorers stood mostly alone. Isaiah Williams—with one free throw to his credit—was the team’s only other scorer.

Both teams hammered each other from the beginning, and both teams took sparing shots to the basket. The Yellow Jackets closed out the first quarter leading 8-7, but Blythewood opened the second quarter on a 7-0 run and closed out the half leading 19-14.

The Bengals kept a four-point cushion until the final minute of the fourth quarter. Khari Felder made good on a 3-pointer to close Blythewood’s lead to 29-28. Then Cameron Readus’ basket on a steal gave the Yellow Jackets a 30-29 lead close to the buzzer.

Blythewood opened the fourth quarter looking to have Jackson control the ball on the perimeter and work it into Thompson inside. That led to both players, and Phillips, putting in seven baskets up until one minute to play.

Meanwhile, Irmo kept feeding the ball into Caldwell on the inside, along with clutch baskets from C.J. Washington, the game’s most valuable player.

Back-to-back Washington baskets by the 4:03 mark forced the final lead change of the game. Once Irmo led 40-37 by then, Blythewood stayed behind.

A Jackson basket with 1:03 left put Blythewood back to within a point at 44-43, and an Irmo turnover three seconds later pretty much gave the Bengals the keys to a victory.

The Yellow Jackets got the ball back, however, and a Caldwell basket gave Irmo a 46-43 lead with 37 seconds left. Another Jackson steal and basket put Blythewood close in the final seconds, but the Yellow Jackets outlasted the threat.

Makayla Jones (12) weaves through the crowded lane. | Ross Burton

In the girls game, the Bengals did not wilt under the WACH 57 Game of the Week cameras. Blythewood clung to a 2-point or a 1-point lead through most of the fourth quarter, but closed out a region-opening 50-45 victory over the Yellow Jackets.

“It says a lot. I was afraid that with the TV that the girls would get like a dear in the headlights,” Blythewood head coach Steve Inabinet said. “I didn’t even tell them that (the game would be televised) until today. But I’m so proud of them.

Alexis Mims, WACH’s player of the game, had 12 points to lead the Bengals (5-9). Chisom Emetu had 10 points.

Irmo’s Madison Domico led all scorers with 18 points, but she couldn’t lead the Yellow Jackets in a late surge past the Bengals

“They did a great job and they didn’t give up. They kept the fight, kept the fight,” Inabinet said. “It’s all I can ask for them to do, to be competitive every night.”

The Bengals were back in action on Tuesday night and the boys claimed an 84-81 win over Sumter but the girls fell 64-34.

Irmo 46,  Blythewood 45

Irmo – 8-6-16-16 – 46

BHS – 7-12-10-16 – 45

Irmo: Trevez Caldwell 14, Dylan Williams 11, C.J. Washington 10, Felder 5, Readus 4, Rivers 2.

BHS: Tre’ Jackson 19, Travis Thompson 12, Julian Philips 13, Williams 1.

Blythewood 50, Irmo 45

Irmo – 4- 12-21-8 – 45

BHS – 15-9-15-11 – 50

Irmo: Madison Dopico 18, Wagstaff 7, Lovett 5, Jones 5, Caldwell 4, Taylor 2, Brooks 2, Mason 2.

BHS: Alexis Mims 12, Chisom Emetu 10, Weeks 7, Swanier 7, Terry 5, Jones 5, Wooten 2.