Irmo and Vance (N.C.) faced difficult tasks in getting to the early Saturday afternoon tip on the second day of the Chick-fil-A Tournament at Richland Northeast High School.
The Yellow Jackets were coming off of a region game in Aiken the night before. They did not get home until late and faced about a 14-hour turnaround.
The Cougars did not leave North Carolina until that morning and had to drive through the effects of an ice storm from Friday that made traveling treacherous.
Those factors might have played a role in the slow start. But Vance found its way in the second half in the 56-41 victory in the Classic I bracket.
"We couldn't find the mark, it just wasn't there," Vance coach Will Robinson said. "We're a good shooting basketball team and we knew it was only a matter of time before we found our range."
It was a sluggish first half that saw Irmo take a 24-23 lead behind 10 points from Jeremy Clinkscales. The Cougars struggled against the Yellow Jackets' zone and was 2-for-15 from the 3-point line, but Robinson was confident his team would find its way.
He even said so to an onlooker when he returned to the bench before the start of the second half.
The Cougars (8-0) opened the second half on a 16-7 spurt that was fueled by five 3-pointers. Chris Farmer made the first two and Braxton Ogbueze knocked down the next three. Farmer finished the half 5-for-7 from the 3-point line and Ogubueze was 3-for-5 as Vance made 8-of-13 in the second half from beyond the arc.
Robinson added that Eric Lusha is probably the best long-range shooter and he was held to one 2-point field goal.
"In the first half, we played hard and focused and with some intensity and they missed a lot of shots," Irmo coach Tim Whipple said. "In the second half, they didn't miss. I've been coaching for 29 years and I don't believe that I've ever been in a situation where a team shot that many 3's and made, percentage-wise, the amount of 3's that they made."
Robinson was surprised Irmo stuck with the zone as long as it did. The Yellow Jackets (5-2) never came out of it because of the Cougars' length and athletic ability.
"I thought Irmo really played us well but I think when we started hitting those 3's it took a little steam out of them," Robinson said. "We kind of lick our chops if we see zone. We have four or five kids that can shoot the three. We wanted to get to the second half and get our legs under us and see what would happen."
That is why Whipple has his team in the Chick-fil-A. He wants them to face quality teams and discover the things that they need to work on. He didn't want his team to use the game on Friday night as an excuse.
"Obviously we were outmatched," Whipple said. "It was a learning lesion for us and that's why we're in the tournament now. I can't say playing Friday night didn't have something to do with our legs in the second half, but we had already discussed it and said we can't use that as an excuse."
Vance - Chris Farmer 18, Braxton Ogbueze 15, Durante 8, Rankin 7, Robinson 2, Lowe 2, Lusha 2, Mason 2. I - Jeremy Clinkscales 14, Roper 9, Jo. Clinkscales 6, Frazier 6, Amedee 2, Inabinet 3, Rogers 1.