Irmo girls basketball coach Monica Williams wasn’t pleased with her team’s offensive performance against West Ashley.
That wasn’t the case for the Yellow Jackets’ defensive effort. Irmo used an aggressive full-court press to force turnovers and rattle West Ashley on its way to a 45-25 win on Tuesday in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs.
Irmo will travel to Carolina Forest, 51-38 winners over Ashley Ridge, on Friday for a second round matchup. It’s the fourth year in a row the Yellow Jackets have won their first-round playoff game.
“I was happy with our start defensively. We got good turnovers off our press,” Williams said. “Unfortunately for us, it is a struggle shooting the ball right now. We can’t make layups, we can’t make free throws and we are having trouble scoring. So, we’ve got to find a way to get out of that.”
Williams said the biggest issue is her team’s shot selection and the inability to finish near the basket.
The Yellow Jackets shot 27 percent from the field, its third consecutive game of shooting less than 30 percent. Irmo also struggled from the line, hitting just 12 of 28 (42 percent) free throws in the game.
Ashley Johnson led the way for Irmo with 11 points, while Region 5-5A co-Player of Year Taiylar DeMoss and Ehrial Wagstaff each added eight. Wagstaff was a spark for the Yellow Jackets defense, which had 17 steals and forced more than 30 turnovers.
Wagstaff had seven steals and keyed Irmo’s second-quarter run which helped them gain control of the game. The Yellow Jackets went on a 10-0 run over the final three minutes of the second quarter to lead 28-12 at halftime.
The Wildcats (12-12) got within nine points a couple of times in the second half, but Irmo answered each challenge, winning its ninth game in a row.
“We’ve got some injuries and a little bit of the flu bug, but it’s great to be going to the second round,” Williams said.
Breaunna Robinson led West Ashley with 14 points. Robinson had all but two of the Wildcats’ 13 points in the second half.
WA: Breaunna Robinson 14, Fyall 2, Ladson 2, Bookard 2, Lopez 4, Brown. I: Wagstaff 8, DeMoss 8, Hampton 9, Ashley Johnson 11, Woodruff 4, Brown 1, Stanton 4.