Irmo clinches region with win over BHS

BLYTHEWOOD – The last time Blythewood faced Irmo, the Yellow Jackets pushed them out from under the nets in a defensive victory.

Tuesday night on their home court, the Bengals played much more physically and had an answer for every Irmo play.

The end result was the same. The Yellow Jackets reclaimed a lead in the fourth quarter and outlasted Blythewood down the stretch, getting the Bengals in foul trouble and walking off the court with a 58-55 win to clinch the Region 4-5A championship.

“They ran with us very well. They outran us at some point,” Blythewood head coach Zeke Washington said. “We play better when it’s up and down, so we were trying to get the tempo up, and it backfired on us some.”

Blythewood (14-9, 3-2), which had lost at Irmo 52-39 in the region opener Jan. 17, opened the game on its signature uptempo stride, outscoring the Yellow Jackets (19-3, 6-0) 19-16 in the first quarter. The Bengals even outrebounded Irmo 9-1 in that time.

Blythewood kept one step—and up to six points—ahead of Irmo in the second quarter, moving up 31-25 in the final two minutes before Irmo’s Julian Kett closed the margin with a 3-pointer. Still, the Bengals took a 32-28 led into the locker room.

Irmo went straight to work on an 8-1 scoring run to open the third quarter. Throughout that frame, Bengals worked to retake the lead. Two 3-pointers from Stacey Shephard broke Irmo Leads and gave Blythewood a 47-44 advantage with 1:34 to go in the third quarter. After a C.J. Washington basket, Julian Phillips closed out the frame with a putback to make it 49-46 going into the final quarter.

Those final eight minutes seemed to be too much for Blythewood. Even though Irmo only outscored the Bengals 12-6, a lot of shots and rebounds that were going into the basket in the first half were careening off the rim or devolving into fights under the nets.

Irmo went 5-for-8 from the foul line in the final minute of the game to close out the win.

“That’s just something that these guys gotta get better at doing, getting up and down the court,” Washington said. “As a coach you’ve gotta find a way to make them better, and I’ve got to coach them better. We have to do better if we want to win those type games.”

Phillips led all scorers with 16 points, 13 rebounds, four blocks and two steals to lead the Bengals. Emmanuel Richards had 12 points and seven rebounds.

Washington and Khari Felder each had 14 points to lead Irmo. Dylan Williams had 13 points.

In the girls game, Irmo made light work of the Bengals in a 59-24 win.

Blythewood is at Sumter Friday. Irmo hosts Lugoff-Elgin.

The Blythewood girls golf team, which won the 5A state championship last October, were presented their championship rings at halftime.

There was a 24.2-second moment of silence in honor of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna; John, Keri, and Alyssa Altobelli; Christina Mauser; Ara Zobayan; and Sarah and Payton Chester, all of whom died in a helicopter crash in Calibasas, Cal., Jan. 26.

Girls: Irmo 59, Blythewood 24

Irmo  – 21-2-26-10 – 59

Blythewood – 4-8-6-6 – 24

Irmo: Lovett 16, Wagstaff 14, Mason 11, Johnson 4, Whaley 4, Thomas 4, Smith 2, Jones 2, Seabrook 2.

Blythewood: Boseman 8, Swanier 5, Jones 4, Kelly 3, Ballman 2, Terry 2.

Boys: Irmo 58, Blythewood 55

Irmo – 16-12-18-12 – 58

Blythewood – 19-13-17-6 – 55

Irmo: Khari Felder 14, C.J. Washington 14, Dylan Thompson 13,Kiett 7, Avery 4, Reedus 2, Forest 2, Bing 2.

Blythewood: Julian Phillips 16, Emmanuel Richards 12, Williams 6, Samueal 6, Rogers 6, Shephard 6, Hardy 2, Wright 1.