RNE and Westwood split; Lady Cavs get a big win on the road

By Tyler Cupp

Richland Northeast girls hand Westwood its first region loss
In a battle of top 5 teams, the No. 4 Lady Cavaliers of Richland Northeast battled back to overcome and defeat the second ranked Westwood Lady Redhawks 61-57 Friday night.

It took a buzzer beating three point shot by Kayla Brown in regulation to force overtime and the momentum carried on from there. RNE coach Jabari Deas had a sense of relief after this one was finally over. “This is a tough place to play and a very strong program. To come in here and gut out a victory, says a lot about these young ladies from Richland Northeast. We held true to who we are which is a defensive team that can score.”

For Westwood coach Gregory Baldrick, he knew his Lady Redhawks let one slip away. “We missed out on some opportunities tonight. Missed free throws down the stretch. We gave up several second chance shots and had too many turnovers. They capitalized on them. And we did not contest enough shots. We can learn from this and move forward.”

This was really a game of runs. And fast paced basketball at that. A quick moving first half saw both teams push the tempo up and down the court with only 3 total fouls called. This was also a fun back and forth battle between Westwood’s Unique Drake and RNE’s Dashia Jackson. The two young ladies apparently have a fun rivalry going and even played together at one point away from high school. Drake scored 31 while Jackson led her team with 25.

“They are pretty good friends first off.” Deas said of the two rivals. ” I think they used to play AAU together at one point. And they had some battles last year of course. So every time they meet its going to be back and forth. Its a competitive nature. (Dashia) Jackson does not back down from anyone when it comes to basketball” Jackson would add 6 steals and 7 rebounds to her point total and that’s what really made the difference for RNE. Second chance points and getting possessions off turnovers. Then the two girls would exchange baskets going step for step throughout the night. However, it was that three ball by Kayla Brown to force overtime.

“Kayla brown has been shooting the ball tremendously for us.” Deas said. ” She is our sixth starter so to speak. She is instant offense when she gets out there. Not afraid of the big moment. Tonight, was just a matter of her doing it once again.” After the three point shot, the celebration from the bench knocked over the Gatorade causing about a 15 minute delay before overtime even got started. The time off would not affect the Lady Cavs momentum one bit as they seemed to feed off it, with some quick down court passing and baskets. Jackson hit her final shot of the night with :40 seconds left and some late free throws by Taylor Britt secured it.

This win for the Lady Cavs (15-2, 5-1) actually avenged an earlier four point loss to Westwood when they first played. The win will make things interesting down the stretch, certainly moreso if both teams win out. For the Redhawks (17-2, 5-1) they will have to continue to forge ahead and hopefully not let this loss slow them down. Coach Baldrick on his team’s focus moving forward. “Well for us our approach is no different. We have to take care of the next opponent in front of us. Just continue to execute and control the things that we can. Take advantage of the opportunities given to us is all we can do at this point. ”

Quick hits

-The largest lead in this game by either team was 6.

-Westwood missed 3 of 6 free throws in the final 29 seconds of regulation. The Redhawks finished 19 of 27.

-In the win, Taylor Britt scored 10 points but also had 11 assists

-At halftime Senior forward Mya Belton was recognized for scoring her 1,000 point earlier this week. She is only the second player in Westwood history (boys and girls) to reach this mark. The only other player to reach that mark is her current teammate Unique Drake.

-In the loss, Drake scored 24 of her game high 31 points in the second half.

Shorthanded Westwood boys pulls away late to defeat RNE 40-31
The Westwood Redhawk boys trailed early but outscored Richland Northeast 23-8 in second half to secure a victory on Friday night. In a game that got off to a very slow start as it was tied at 10 after the first 8 minutes. RNE hit a few shots late in the second quarter including a three pointer by Joshua Boyd which put the Cavs up 23-17 going into halftime. First year coach Lucas Hargrove, a RNE alumni, talked about the solid start. “Well in the first half we hit a few shots and executed. The kids did everything we asked them to do. We played really tough and physical. And made some things happen.”

As for Jeff Dibattisto and the Westwood Redhawks, they were actually missing some bodies and depth due to the flu and sickness that has struck the Midlands. But he was not about to make any excuses on this night. “We didn’t sit down and guard anyone in the first half. Just did not play well early at all. We struggled to score a little bit there. We have a few guys out but that should not be an excuse. Guys gotta step up when needed.”

The home standing Redhawks would chip away at the lead to start the third quarter and went on a 8-0 run before RNE scored its first and only points of the stanza at the 1:15 mark. Westwood tied it going into the final 8 minutes 25 all. Westwood used better ball movement in that sequence and played much better defense, contesting much more shots.

“Luckily we stepped up in that first half and defended much better.” Dibattisto said. “I think they scored 2 points in the third quarter. Other guys had to step up and they did in this game. We executed what we wanted to do. I have great assistant coaches, and defensively we did what we needed too.” RNE was unable to capture any of the momentum they had from earlier in the game and their shots became tired. Westwood would take the lead and never looked back at the 5:05 mark of the 4th with a three pointer by sophomore Bre’on Lewis. “I give a lot of credit to Jeff (Dibattisto).” Coach Hargrove said of the second half story. ” They came out very sound and disciplined there on defense. They were in the right places. And for us we had some fatigue set in. We had less push and arc on the jumpers.”

A couple of free throws and some stingy defense, led to this one to being over. It’s been a rough season for Richland Northeast, but one thing is for sure. They compete each and every night. Coach Hargrove wants future opponents to know that they will finish the season strong with a steadfast mentality. “That’s the cavalier way. Since I’ve been here, that’s what I’ve tried to preach. Northeast pride and how you compete. I don’t care if we win or lose the rest of the games. Every time you played Northeast, you’re going to know you played us.”

RNE – Brown 8, Boyd 8, Montgomery 6, Jackson 3, Robinson 2, Vereen 2, Green 2. W – Russell Jones Jr. 12, Kendall Wormack 10, Huff 9, Green 6, Lewis 3.