Ridge View returns to upper state, other scores from Tuesday’s games

Tyler Cupp photos.

RIDGE VIEW 84 TRAVELER’S REST 54

The Ridge View Blazers basketball team is back in the Upper State championship for a second straight season. The defending 4A champions throttled Traveler’s Rest(20-6) on Tuesday night 84-54. In a game that was never close, the Blazers (24-7) were efficient on offense and stifled the opposition on defense. Ridge View will meet Wren Friday in Greenville for a chance to get back to the Colonial Life Arena and play for state. This game was never close as RV jumped out to a 12-4 lead after the first timeout. The Blazers are so quick to the point of attack and are never left flat footed under the basket. They hustle for rebounds and play very aggressive offense in transition. RV jumped out to a 36-21 lead with three minutes left in the half as they got a big three pointer from Crosby Harris-James, one of the five returning starters on this team. It’s quite rare in high school basketball to not only win a state championship, but then to return all five starters the next season. The Blazers have done just that in this 2018-19 campaign.

The two players who seem to lead the way each and every night on both ends are Georgetown-signee Malcolm Wilson and sensational guard Walyn Napper. Wilson handles the defense while Napper leads the offense. RV Coach Yerrick Stoneman on his two leaders: “I think Malcolm (Wilson) on the defensive end was just unbelievable tonight. Every time they got around the rim, he would block it or rebound it somehow. We go as he goes. And on offense we go as Way (Napper) goes. He makes great decisions and has been my point guard for three years. I just can’t say enough about him and the leadership he brings to our team.”

Traveler’s Rest just had no answer on either end of the floor. Even as the game got a bit chippy, both teams seemed to keep their cool and the coaches made the proper substitutions to calm the tone down. The DevilDogs are young and just nowhere near as experienced as the senior heavy Blazers. They seem destined this year.

Another senior leader for the Blazers was Javon Anderson. He had a layup at the buzzer to make the score 46-27 going into halftime. The quarterback on the football team has shined at times this season slinging the ball around and drilling three pointers, but on this night he came up big as a defender. “Javon (Anderson) stepped up in a big way the last game but tonight he was big on defense.” Stoneman said. ” Some may not understand because it does not show in the scorebook but he was our best defender tonight. It helps when you have great seniors that have been around the program and play hard like this.”

Wilson was such a force inside and disrupted everything in his path. His presence affected everything that the Devildogs tried to do. And they simply had no answer for him down low in the post on offense. He had numerous putbacks and dunks on his way to a triple double (14 points, 10 rebounds, 10 blocks). But a big factor in RV hitting on all cylinders is that a handful of the two-sport guys (football) are starting to get in basketball shape.

Stoneman explained: “The reason why we are peaking right now is that these football guys are turning into basketball players and getting in that shape. Handful of guys are getting really focused now and hopefully we can keep pushing here. We have a family and one goal.”

Napper had a slam and added a lay-in on back to back turnovers by TR and forced a timeout to make the score 55-33 with two minutes left in the third. Another block by Wilson late in the quarter fired up the crowd and left no doubt on the floor. The bench came in around the 2:40 mark to finish out the game as they sat the starters. RV would go on to win by a final mark of 30 points.

The Blazers have made it this far and win by such wide margins because of their unselfish play. They have numerous players that come off the bench that could probably start for a lot of teams across the state. Guys off the bench come in and contribute, whether it’s making that extra pass, contesting shots, or whatever is needed.

“I think the additions of Sincere (Scott) and Benson (Ja’Von) change a little in terms of their role.” Stoneman said. ” And Tyler Rice is a guy off the bench that’s a great basketball player too. Everyone has had to accept a different role. I just love our defensive presence around the rim this year too. Last few games we have rebounded extremely well, and hoping for a good turnout this Friday.

Walyn Napper led the way for the Blazers with 20 points, 10 rebounds and 4 assists.

The Upper and Lower State Matchups are set. A ton of Midlands teams will be represented this weekend. (Ridge View boys, Westwood girls, Lexington girls and boys, Keenan girls and boys, Gray Collegiate boys and Spring Valley girls). Look for a preview on Friday. Here are some of the scores from Tuesday.

1A
GREAT FALLS 77 DENMARK-OLAR 61

2A BOYS
GRAY COLLEGIATE 76 MULLINS 47
Third straight upper state appearance for Gray
OCEANSIDE 69 WOODLAND 63
It’s a match up of sister schools as Oceanside play Gray Collegiate in the Upper State.
SILVER BLUFF 56 SOUTHSIDE CHRISTIAN 41

3A
KEENAN 58 SOUTHSIDE 37
The Raiders take down the defending 3A champions

4A
DARLINGTON 83 NORTH AUGUSTA 68

5A
LEXINGTON 61 CONWAY 49
The Wildcats stay unbeaten on the season. They will play Berkeley(25-1) in the Lower State Championship in Florence.

DORMAN 80 SPARTANBURG 36
The Cavs held the Vikings to 25 percent shooting. Dorman themselves however went 11 of 14 from three point range. They shot 70 percent overall on the night.
Mauldin will meet Dorman. The Mavericks rallied from 12 doing to defeat Nation Ford. The Mavericks have won 22 games this season. That’s one more win than they have won the previous four seasons combined.

Categories: Columbia, Richland County, Sports

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