Bengal boys edge past Clover

BLYTHEWOOD – The Blythewood boys basketball team dug themselves a hole by the second quarter of their game against Clover Tuesday night. Then the Bengals methodically got themselves out.

Down 25-15 with 3:56 to go in the first half, Blythewood went on a 9-0 scoring run to close out the half, then scored the first five points of the second half to lead the Blue Eagles 29-25.

From that point the Bengals’ escape unleashed a court tenacity that held off Clover 47-46.
“They just decided that they didn’t want to lose, and they played hard enough to shift themselves back into the game,” Blythewood head coach Zeke Washington said. “It was a physical game between two teams with a lot of pride, two teams playing hard. They’re a very well coached team, we were just able to make one more shot than they did.”

That shot came off the hands of Lamont Jackson at the foul line. He made two free throws with 1:21 left that broke a 44-44 tie, then sank the back end of a two-shot foul with 19 seconds left.

When Clover inbounded the ball Jaylon Hoover tried a 3-pointer but the shot fell into the hands of Jayden Guess just before the final buzzer sounded.

“The thing about this team is that this team makes sacrifices to win,” Washington said. “They don’t care who does what, who does the scoring, and hopefully it’ll continue.”

Clover (9-10, 2-1 Region 3-5A) led 14-10 going into the second quarter, and built on its lead with baskets from Jake Baker, Vincent Alexander, and two 3s and a foul shot from J.T. Mata.

Tyler Stephens and Will Olden put in baskets for Blythewood during that stretch of the second, and Guess put in a foul shot.

Clover had the 25-15 advantage, but then Jackson scored, and Olden followed up with a basket of his own and a 3-pointer that got Blythewood (14-5, 3-0) to within 25-22.

Austin Coker’s foul shots closed out the half with the Blue Eagles leading 25-24.

After halftime, Olden opened up the scoring with a 3 to give Blythewood its first lead since the first quarter. Coker followed up with a basket to make it 29-25, and for the next six minutes the teams battled it out. Coker’s putback gave Blythewood a 35-32 lead going into the final quarter.

The Bengals and Blue Eagles battled through four lead changes until Guess stepped up.

Guess knifed into the lane for a 2 that gave Blythewood a 40-39 lead with 3:55 left. Then he hit one of two foul shots, and followed up with a 3-point play to put the Bengals up five points with 2:50 left.

“Jayden is like a sparkplug for us,” Washington said of the 5-6 junior point guard. ”He can pass the ball, he can score, he can apply pressure defensively. It’s his first year on varsity, so he’s finding his way. Every game for him is a big-time learning experience. Today he learned how to push his team over the hump in the fourth quarter. Some of it is defense, some of it is offense. He packs a lot into that little body.”

Plenty of time remained, and in the next minute Alexander scored and Hoover hit a 3 to tie the game at 44 with 1:40 left.

By that time, Clover was in foul trouble, so with Blythewood in double bonus Jackson took the free-throw line and made two foul shots.

After Alexander’s score at the one-minute mark, Jackson took the free-throw line again, missed the first shot, but sank the game-winner on the next throw.

Olden, a 6-2 junior, led the way with 15 points, including three 3-pointers.

“Will is probably our most experienced player, he played a lot last year,” Washington said. “Last year he was a glue guy, this year we make him do everything. He’s been there, he knows what’s going on, and we allow his leadership and his experience.”

Blythewood travels to Rock Hill Friday. The Bearcats (12-4, 2-1) fell 60-50 at Nation Ford Tuesday night.

For the Bengals, it’s one more region challenge in which Washington hopes that his young team can continue its winning ways.

“A lot of these guys are first-year varsity players,” Washington said of the Bengals, who have just two seniors on the team. “We’ve got a lot of things to clean up, but I’m proud of them. When they get subbed out, they don’t get upset. We’ve had some guys that got hurt that didn’t play tonight, the next set of kids rolled up and they just did it.”

The Blythewood girls (12-9, 1-2) put up a defensive fight, but fell 42-36 to Clover (13-3, 2-1). India Williams led the Bengals in scoring with 16 points and Chase Thomas had 12 points.

Boys

Clover – 14-11-7-14 — 46

Blythewood – 10-14-11-12 — 47

Clover

T.J. Mata 13, Vincent Alexander 12, Lail 8, Hoover 7, Allen 4, Brown 2.

Blythewood

Will Olden 15, Coker 8, Guess 7, Jackson 5, Pack 4, Howze 2, Mazyck 2, Stevens 2, Haltiwanger 2.

Girls

Clover – 14-12-11-5 — 42

Blythewood – 10-12-4-10 — 36

Clover

Lucas 13, Watt 11, Franklin 6, Taylor 5, Massey 5, Wright 2.

Blythewood

India Williams 16, Chase Thomas 12, Hightower 3, Simmons 2, Young 2, Thomas 1.

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