Irmo’s big three of Noah Jenkins, R.J. Gunn and Winston Hill helped keep its region title streak intact.
The senior trio combined for 54 points as the Yellow Jackets defeated Dutch Fork 71-62 on Friday night.
With the win, Irmo shares the Region 5-5A title with Blythewood, but the Bengals will be the No. 1 seed because of winning the coin flip for the tiebreaker.
It’s the Yellow Jackets’ eighth consecutive region crown and one coach Tim Whipple didn’t see coming at the beginning of the year. Irmo (19-5, 10-2) lost several key players from last year’s runner-up team, then were without some football players at the beginning of the year and were without Gunn, who was out until December after recovering from an ACL injury.
“I think for this group to be co-region champions is a huge accomplishment. We came a long way since the beginning of the year,” said Whipple who was honored before the game for picking up his 700th victory earlier this season. “We almost had four seasons ... and had to adjust all the way along. Now, we are getting to a position where everyone is feeling comfortable with each other.”
Jenkins led the way with 21 points and 12 rebounds, while Hill added 17 and Gunn had 16. The three scored 30 of the team’s 40 points in the second half, and helped key a 16-2 run over a 5:20 span in the end of the second and beginning of the third quarter.
Dutch Fork tried to get back in it in the second half by pressuring Irmo, but the Yellow Jackets’ guards were able to break it and led to several easy baskets as they extended the lead to 70-46 in the fourth quarter.
“They tried to push the pressure but all we had to do is slow down and take open shots, layups and don’t force anything,” Jenkins said. “We got on a big run and came out with a W.”
Irmo outrebounded Dutch Fork, 40-24.
Dayton signee Jordan Davis led Dutch Fork (15-8, 8-4) with 22 points, and Jordan Warlick added 16.
The Silver Foxes will open up the playoffs on the road Wednesday, while Irmo will be at home.
DF: Jordan Davis 22, Jordan Warlick 16, Cannon 9, Willie Dunbar 13, Glover 3, Eaddy 2. I: Williams 1, Edwards 2, Winston Hill 17, R.J. Gunn 16, Noah Jenkins 21, Heath 4, Henryhand 2, Rivers 8.
Irmo 36, Dutch Fork 32
Ashley Johnson scored 14 points, and region co-player Taiylar DeMoss added 10 as the Yellow Jackets (18-6, 11-1) clinched a share of the region championship.
Irmo finished tied with Spring Valley, but will be the No. 2 seed from region after losing a coin flip. It’s the Yellow Jackets’ third region crown in the last four years.
Irmo used an 8-0 run in the fourth quarter to take a 32-25 lead.
“It’s tough playing our biggest rival on senior night,” Irmo coach Monica Williams said. “We had to scratch and claw and were able to make a run in the second half.”
DF: Butler 6, Harris 3, Jackson 5, Mills 5, Madison Golden 11, Sanders 2. I: Wagstaff 6, Taiylar DeMoss 10, Hampton 3, Ashley Johnson 14, Woodruff 3.