Redhawks sweep Cavaliers

BLYTHEWOOD – Coming off a miserable loss to red-hot Irmo the previous Tuesday, the Westwood boys basketball team wanted to make Senior Night at The Castle special.

The Redhawks did just that in a 57-56 victory over Richland Northeast Friday night. They went shot for shot with the Cavaliers in a game Westwood needed to win to earn the fourth-place playoff spot in one of the most contested regions in the state.

“Anytime you get a win in our region is a big-time win,” Westwood head coach John Combs said. “We didn’t play particularly good the last time when we played Irmo, and we lost some really close games recently, so it’s great to finish off the regular season here at home on Senior night.”

Neither team led by more than four points throughout the game.

After a grueling battle in the Region 5-4A finale that involved nine lead changes in the fourth quarter and 19 in the game, Westwood and Richland Northeast dueled it out at the foul line.

Marques Smith Jr.’s two free throws at the 2:06 mark gave Richland Northeast a 50-49 lead, and from that point the Cavaliers and Redhawks exchanged fouls and free throws.

Then Smith, who hit seven straight free throws in the second half, missed the back end of a pair of shots with 27 seconds left. Richland Northeast’s 3-point cushion had shrunk to two points, 56-54.

Nine seconds later Smith fouled T.J. Bell. Bell took to the line and made one shot to cut that margin to 56-55. Mike Balkman came down with the rebound that enabled Westwood to hold onto the ball. Combs called a timeout with 14.5 seconds left.

When play resumed, Bell took a hurried shot and the ball knocked off the rim. Conyers grabbed for the ball but couldn’t get a hold of it or make a shot.

Bell found a handle on the ball, and tipped it into the basket to give Westwood a 57-56 lead with 6.8 seconds left. After Richland Northeast’s hurried charge down the court, Conyers batted down a shot from Smith and the ball went out of bounds.

Westwood took over possession with one fifth of a second left. Conyers tossed a long inbound pass to Mike Balkman on the other side of the court, which clinched the win and snapped a 4-game losing streak.

“There’s no such thing as a bad win in this region. Every win is vitally important, and we needed a little confidence,” Combs said. “To find a way to make quick plays down the stretch and find a way to win was really good for our guys.”

For the Redhawks, getting a win Friday night meant a lot for the team. Before losing to Irmo by 26 points, they had lost three games by a total margin of 19 points. Three of Westwood’s last five games before the Irmo loss went into overtime—two went into double overtime.

After Friday’s action, Irmo (7-3, 21-5) clinched the region title with an 80-49 victory over Lugoff-Elgin (3-7, 12-14). Ridge View (6-4, 14-12) edged A.C. Flora (6-4, 13-12) 50-46. The Blazers had to beat the Falcons by more than four points to claim second place. Because of the 4-point victory margin, the decision for second place went down to points allowed for the tiebreak. Because Ridge View gave up 545 points to A.C. Flora’s 482, The Falcons will be the second seed and the Blazers will wind up in third.

Westwood (4-6, 12-14) moves into fourth place in the region because it beat Richland Northeast (4-6, 12-13) twice. The Cavaliers and the Demons will have to get an at-large bid into the lower state bracket. That will be determined Saturday morning.

“We needed a win to secure a spot in the playoffs, but I think every team in the region is going to make the playoffs with at-large bids,” Combs said.

Conyers and K.J. Rowan were honored as a part of Senior Night. Westwood girls Jessica Woods, Korletta Daniels, Miracle Branch, Jessica Bumpers, Courtna’e Pope, and Sage Graham-Brown were also honored, along with cheerleaders, a photographer and a videographer.

The Westwood girls (22-4) finished region play a perfect 10-0 with a 58-15 win over Richland Northeast (1-17, 1-9). Raven Johnson scored 13 points, Makiah Thompson added 12 and Jessica Woods had 10 points for the Redhawks, who earlier in the season clinched their sixth straight region championship.

“It always feels good (to finish perfect in the region) but when that happens, it’s back to 0-0,” head coach Gregory Bauldrick said. “We’ll enjoy tonight. I’m very proud of our girls and the investment that they put into what we’re trying to accomplish.”

The Westwood girls play host to West Florence Thursday to open the 4A playoffs.

The Westwood boys played at South Florence Wednesday.


RNE – 10-16-13-17 — 56

Westwood – 11-13-15-18 — 57


Cameron Copeland 15, Marques Smith 15, Jaylen Tillman 12, Watkins 5, Halliburton 3, Wine 2, Grant 2, Johnson 2.


T.J. Bell 20, Arden Conyers 20, Rowan 8, Walters 4, Brown 3, Balkman 2.


RNE – 0-7-3-5 — 15            

Westwood – 15-10-18-15 — 58


Jaliad 9, Gadson 4, Brown 2. 


Raven Johnson 13, Makiah Thompson 12, Jessica Woods 10, Branch 7, Daniels 6, Graham-Brown 4, Davis 3, Pope 2, Chatman 2.

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