Redhawks stand strong in the fourth

COLUMBIA – It took the Westwood boys a whole lot of waiting through covid-postponed games, and a high-pressure fourth quarter at Dreher Monday night, but the Redhawks escaped the Blue Devils 44-42 to claim their second Region 4-4A victory.

“It was two pretty good teams going at it,” said Westwood head coach John Combs, whose team got its first region win in a 56-48 victory over Richland Northeast Friday. “Dreher never gave up. They beat us up on the boards pretty good. I didn’t like how we finished but somehow we managed to sneak away, make a couple of plays and get a close victory.”

Photo: Leroy Howard

Felder led Westwood (4-8 2-4) with 14 points.

Westwood clung to a 33-31 lead going into the final quarter, then the game underwent eight lead changes in a defensive battle before McQuaje McDaniel weaved inside to throw up a basket with 50 seconds to go. Up 43-42, Westwood leaned on its battered defensive stance in the final minute.

Dreher (2-4, 2-2) brought the ball back into play and drained about 30 seconds off the clock before Devario Sheppard tried for a jumper just outside the lane. The shot careened off the rim and nearly into the hands of teammate Marvin Hires, who had pulled in 10 rebounds for the Blue Devils.

Hires couldn’t keep his hands on it. A scrum ensued under the net, and McBride came up with the ball with seven seconds to go.

Westwood called a timeout, and Jalen Faber prepared to inbound the ball in front of the Dreher bench. When he did put the ball into play, Dreher intercepted the pass and sank the potential winning basket.

The only action that negated the basket was Ryan Lominack’s hold on the play. With both teams in bonus and five seconds left on the clock, Westwood’s Cam McBride took the foul line and made the first shot but missed the second.

On the rebound, Sheppard drew a foul and took the line with one second left. Sheppard’s shots could have sent the game in overtime, but instead the Blue Devil’s free throws bounced off the rim.

When play resumed Felder took the inbound pass beneath the goal and held onto it for the one second to fall off the clock.

Hires had 12 points to go with his 10 rebounds for Dreher. Teammate Landon Harrison had 11 points.

Both Dreher and Westwood showed a lack of polish, as the teams have had to deal with several postponements and weeks of off time because of the Covid-19 Pandemic.

For the Blue Devils, that meant an atrocious start. Dreher 11 turnovers in the first half, nearly all of which turned into scoring opportunities for Westwood.

When the Redhawks did score, it was largely from behind the 3-point arc.

Westwood got two 3s from Felder, and 3s from McDaniel, Faber, and Arden Conyers to boost the otherwise anemic scoreboard. The Redhawks held a 25-13 lead at the half.

“Our shots were hitting in the first half,” Combs said. “It’s hard to argue when you’re making your shots. You look like a better team when you’re making your 3s, and of course in the second half we weren’t making quite as many.”

Dreher finally showed some inside capability in the third quarter, and ran the quarter with an 18-8 scoring run.

“Dreher switched their defenses up. They played mostly zone in the first half,” Combs said. “They played a lot of man in the second half, which gave us some problems.”

Lominack put Dreher ahead for the first time with a 3-pointer to open the fourth-quarter action. While the Redhawks played back on its heels for most of the frame, they had just enough in the tank to stay with the recharged Blue Devils and close out the win.

“I’m proud of my kids,” Combs said. “Again, it wasn’t the way I’d want to finish, but there were times we were down and we found a way to come back and get a region win on the road.”

Westwood’s boys and girls host Lugoff-Elgin Friday.

“We’ve played so many region road games, it’d be nice to get a region home game,” said Combs, whose team also played a lot of quickly scheduled nonregion games on the road because of the postponement. “I feel like we’ve been battle-tested. We’ve played the Ridge Views of the world and Floras and Irmos, and I give my guys credit, they haven’t given up. They keep battling and now we’ve won two in a row.”

Boys

Westwood – 14-11-8-11 – 44

Dreher – 9-4-18-11 – 42

Westwood Bryson Felder 14, Faber 8, McDaniel 8, McBride 7, Conyers 3, McDuffie 2.

Dreher Marvin Hires 12, Landon Harrison 11, Sheppard 8, Liminack 7, Elliott 2, Bennett 2.