Westwood battles at Ridge View

COLUMBIA – The state’s top two Class 4A boys basketball teams took to the floor before a packed house at Ridge View Friday night.

Bre’on Lewis jockeys for positioning on the inside.

Westwood’s Russell Jones Jr. scored a game-high 30 points, but the No.1 Redhawks couldn’t overcome the defending 4A state champion Blazers’ backcourt of Ja’Von Benson and Malcolm Wilson in a 79-64 defeat.

Benson and Wilson combined for 24 points and 17 rebounds, while guard Cincere Scott put up 26 points as Ridge View handed Westwood its first loss of the season.

“They’re really good,” Westwood head coach Ty Baumgardner said of the Blazers. “I’m not sure if there’s a deeper team in the state in any classification that I’ve seen. When you’ve got 6’11 (Wilson) and 6’8 (Benson) and they decide to play, they’re just hard to stop.”

Ridge View (14-5, 5-0 Region 3-4A) closed out the first quarter with three straight baskets to take an 18-11 lead into the second quarter. The Blazers eventually went up 27-13 and looked to keep Westwood (19-1, 4-1) on the ropes.

Jones answered with back-to-back 3-point plays, which sparked a 20-7 run—capped by another Jones 3-point play with a minute to go before halftime.

“Russell did a dadgum good job, he’s probably the most underrated player in the state,” Ridge View head coach Yerrick Stoneman said of the 5’6 Jones. “His heart is as big as anybody out there. We were able to control him a little bit, but we were also able to control Ta’Jay (Dunlap, who was held to five points) and that was key.”

Down 34-33 to the Blazers, Westwood looked to stay close to their Region 3 rivals at intermission. Walyn Napper’s 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer stretched Ridge View’s lead to 41-35.

The Redhawks surged again in the third quarter. While Benson and Wilson practically shut out Westwood from rebounds and inside shots in the first half, Westwood drew out the two Ridge View defenders in the third quarter and got some back-door baskets.

Down 45-36 early in the third, the Redhawks went on an 11-2 run to tie the game at 47 at the 4:27 mark. Three 3-pointers from Scott kept Ridge View in control.

His first 3 put the Blazers back up 50-47 until Ta’Jay Dunlap drained a 3 that knotted the game at 52.

Scott’s second trey broke that tie with less than a minute to go in the third.

After two changes of possession in the third, Scott grabbed a rebound with five seconds left, ran up to midcourt and lofted a high shot that fell into the net at the third-quarter buzzer.

“Cincere stepped up, unbelievable,” Stoneman said. “He’s a gamer, whether it’s football or it’s on the basketball court, he likes big games.”

Up 58-52 going into the final period, the Blazers kept the Redhawks in check, outscoring them 21-12.

Baumgardner went back to the Blazers’ towering backcourt.

“Malcolm especially,” he said. “He made the blocks, altered some shots. We lost him on some pick and rolls. I thought our effort was great. I thought we fought, we battled, through four quarters, but at the end of the day the difference was they were bigger than us.”

Malayziah Etheredge (2) powers into the low post. | Leroy Howard

In the girls’ game, Ridge View exploded for 28 points in the second quarter, but Westwood poured onto its 3-point halftime lead to rout the Blazers 80-55.

Westwood (15-5, 4-1) clung to a 42-39 lead at intermission, but opened the second half on a 3-minute, 11-0 run to put a double-digit cushion on Ridge View (12-8, 3-2). The Redhawks outscored the Blazers 23-8 in the third quarter and 15-8 in the fourth.

“We thought we were in the right defense, we just weren’t playing the way we needed to play,” Westwood head coach Gregory Bauldrick said. “We weren’t communicating, we talked about that in the half, and we came out and executed much better.”

The Westwood girls took down Wilson 66-58 in the Crescent Construction MLK Bash on Saturday. Drake racked up 18 points, 7 rebounds and 3 steals. Essence Marshall and Nyah Leveretter each finished with 11 points.

Westwood boys and girls head to Richland Northeast on Friday.

 

Ridge View 79, Westwood 64

WHS – 11-24-17-12 – 64

RVHS – 18-23-17-21 – 79

WHS: Russell Jones Jr. 30, Bre’On Lewis 12, Turner 9, Dunlap 5, Huff 5, Horn 2, Wormack 1.

RVHS: Cincere Scott 26, Ja’Von Benson 14, Walyn Napper 14, Crosby Harris-James 11, Malcolm Wilson 10, Bynum 2, Jefferson 2.

 

Westwood 80, Ridge View 55

WHS – 17-25-23-15 – 80

RVHS – 11-28-8-8 – 55

WHS: Unique Drake 20, Malayziah Etheridge 17, Nyah Leveretter 10, Essence Marshall 10, Lockett 9, Wade 5, Frederick 4, McCant 3, Mines 2.

RVHS: Aliaya Kelley 14, Laila Acox 13, Mariah Mitchem 11, Murphy 7, H. Kelley 6, Thompson 4.