Ridge View travels to face Lexington in an inordinately interesting first-round game in the Class 4A state boys basketball playoffs. It is, after all, a rematch of last season’s Lower State championship game when Ridge View upset the Wildcats to reach the finals for the first time.
The Blazers (15-9) enter the postseason on a roll – winning 11 of 14 games since Dec. 28. The only setbacks have been to Region 4 rivals Irmo and Richland Northeast (twice).
Lexington (20-5) completed a 10-0 run to the Region 5 championship, and is thrilled to get another shot at the Blazers. Shaq Roland, Toby Glymph, Sam McDermott and Nygel Gates are the Wildcats leaders.
Region 4 co-champions Irmo and Richland Northeast open the playoffs with high expectations and first-round home games.
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Irmo (22-3) lost its shot at an outright region title with a late loss to RNE, but the Yellow Jackets had the tiebreaker edge and enter as the No. 1 seed. Clemson-bound point guard Jordan Roper is averaging 16.7 points, 4.6 assists and 2.3 steals and is the clear driving force on the team, but the senior star has had solid backing from Detrek Browning (14.2 ppg, 2.8 spg), Justin McKie (8.2 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 2.2 apg) and Rakish Taylor (7.3 ppg, 5.9 rpg). Roper and Browning are shooting the ball very well. Roper is 151-for-303 (50%) from the field and 83-for-96 (86%). Browning is also at 50% from the field (126-for-252) and 80% at the line (52-for-65), and lead the team with 54 scored from 3-point range.
Irmo’s quest for a second straight championship begins with a home date against Northwestern.
Richland Northeast (20-4) hosts Spartanburg in the first round. Travis Hammonds (14.2 ppg, 9.7 rpg), Kelvin Cruse (8.2ppg, 5.1 rpg), Devante Anderson (8.6 ppg), Mike Murphy (8.6 ppg) and Quinn Martin (7.1 ppg, 4.2 apg) and the Cavaliers leaders. RNE has not made it past the second round since 2005.
Spring Valley (12-11), Dutch Fork (5-14) and White Knoll (13-13) have also made the cut, but face demanding road challenges to stay alive. Spring Valley takes on Region 6 champion Carolina Forest, Dutch Fork is at Wando and White Knoll, which won a play-in game last week, plays at Sumter.
Keith Jumper (15.0 ppg, 8.3 rpg), Julian Johnson (13.0 ppg, 6.4 rpg) and Emarius Logan (10.5 ppg, 4.5 apg) were key to White Knoll’s late season surge that netted a playoff invitation.