Weekend of Champions recap – 5 Midlands teams win crowns
Five Midlands teams take home crowns in the state championships
The Weekend of Champions in high school basketball is in the books. It was a great 2 days of basketball at the Colonial Life Arena in Columbia. From all accounts it was one of the better turn outs in recent memory. Fans from all over the state came to support their teams. Here is a quick recap with stats and thoughts on the final weekend in high school basketball. Five Midlands teams took home gold.
East Clarendon was up 21-0 to start the game and never looked back as they went on to win their first state championship in girls basketball. East Clarendon defeated Timmonsville 55-31. It was the first appearance for the Lady Wolverines since 1971. They very well could make CLA a common spot in March as they have a rising star in the making as it was a middle schooler who played really well. Eighth grader Talaysia Cooper had 18 points to lead her team.
In the boys title game, Hemingway won again as they defeated upstart Ridge Spring Monetta 71-59. Its back to back championships for Hemingway as JuJu Williams had a very impressive double double performance scoring 21 points and bringing down 14 rebounds. I really enjoyed seeing Ridge Spring Monetta compete two weeks ago when I saw them in the Upper State title game. They play hard. Expect them to possibly get back soon to make a run. Some young talent on that team. It was the first appearance for them since 1955.
The Keenan girls got it done. The Lady Raiders won its third title in 10 years as they defeated Mullins 51-28. This squad put on a heck of a run dating back to January to get here. They won 17 of 18 games to finish out the season. Keenan coach Reggie McClain has done a great job with this team year in and year out. He’s been the coach for all three of the title for Keenan dating back to 2008. The most impressive thing about this win, however was the fact that Mullins came in averaging 65 points per game. In fact, they had only scored fewer than 45 points one other time. So give credit to the Keenan defense here. Leading scorers for the Raiders were JaDiamond Hickman with 18 points and Logan Taylor-McDaniel had 12.
Gray Collegiate won its first state title in school history defeating Carvers Bay 58-45. This was a pretty tight game until the final quarter. Even though top junior prospect Juwan Gary was the focus, it was the play of Tommy Bruner that shined. The point guard had 20 points 3 assists and 3 steals. Gary was still solid with 13 and 8. Gray outscored Carvers Bay 15-3 in the final eight minutes. The War Eagles were just too athletic. What was most surprising was the fact that Gray was 0-11 from long range for the game. They played close to the basket and got higher percentage shots using the size of Gary and Michael Marsh.
Another Midlands team took home a crown in 3A girls as Newberry defeated Ridgeland-Hardeeville 57-50. The Lady Bulldogs used a big first half outscoring the Jaguars 34-18. Newberry had 3 in double figures with Diamond Davis(18), Kelsey Felks(13), and Zacharia Epps(12). Felks also had a monster game on the glass hauling in an astounding 23 rebounds. It was an emotional win for Newberry as they were without all-state guard Rayanna Davis who was injured in a car accident just a few weeks ago. It was also nice to see Newberry win here too, considering they lost to Bishop England on a buzzer beater just last year.
In 3A boys Southside made it back to back state titles knocking off Ridgeland-Hardeeville 74-58. The Tigers never trailed in this one. Southside has also now won an incredible 50 games in two years now. Talking to folks who have seen Southside over that run tell me they are so athletic and dangerous all over the court. From what I could tell, they seem to get balanced scoring each night. They had 4 starters score in double figures.
Back to back state titles for North Augusta. The top ranked Lady Yellowjackets did it again Saturday as they defeated Wilson 52-34. North Augusta jumped out to a 14-4 run to start the game. They are so good on defense, with 4A player of the year Amari Young leading the way. She fills up the stat sheet every night. Young had 17 rebounds to go with 4 steals and 2 blocks. This is also an unselfish basketball team. The Lady Jackets also had an impressive 15 assists.
Blazer nation packed the CLA Saturday night to cheer on their team. And they needed every bit of that support as the Ridge View Blazers beat Wilson 74-70 to claim its first state championship. Big 6’10 Malcolm WIlson had the game saving block to preserve the win. The junior prospect had 7 total blocks to go with a double double (15-15). The Blazers also nearly got a triple double from Wayln Napper as he was just 1 assist shy of that mark (17-10-9). The Tigers hit 9 three pointers in this game and showed its depth getting 15 points off the bench. Ridge View winning the state title solidifies the great work that the athletic administration has done in recent years. Athletic Director Brian Rosefield has really brought in some good coaches to help create a new and exciting culture for Blazers sports.
Spring Valley also brought a good crowd to cheer on their Lady Vikings to another state title. SV defeated Wade Hampton 49-37. It’s the 6th state championship for Spring Valley girls and first for head coach Megan Assey. In her second season, Coach Assey has picked up where hall of fame coach Anne Long left off by bringing a trophy back to the northeast side of Columbia. Taylor Lewis led the Lady Vikes with 18 points and 7 boards.
And last but certainly not least, Dorman captured back to back state titles defeating Irmo 44-33. It was a strong second half performance from the Cavaliers as they outscored the Yellowjackets 29-14. Even though a low scoring game might actually favor the defensive minded Irmo, the Cavs played step for step with them. Dorman is led by sensational sophomore Myles Tate, who is already receiving looks from colleges. Tate had 20 points and 3 steals. But this was a game of defense and the team from Roebuck, SC held Irmo to just 25 percent shooting in the final 16 minutes of play.
You gotta credit to Irmo for this run. Some would say this was one of the best coaching jobs by Tim Whipple in years. He had a team that was 2-5 at one point in region play and somehow got them in the playoffs. It is really hard to do more with less in sports, but in class 5A, that’s almost unthinkable. He’s certainly had better talent in recent years, but his kids showed a lot of heart and determination. Whipple is now 5-5 in state championship games but this may have been one of his more impressive seasons of his career, and maybe his most memorable too. In the loss for Irmo, Winston Hill had 13 points