Irmo hasn’t had the typical success they’ve enjoyed during much of the 2010s, but the Yellow Jackets might finally be hitting their stride as the end of the regular season winds down.
Thanks to the play of seniors Winston Hill, Jevonte Young and Raekwon Heath, Irmo rallied for an important 57-54 Region 5-5A victory over second place Spring Valley on Tuesday night.
The win places four teams within a game of each other in the region as the regular season comes to a close next week. Blythewood has already clinched the region title, and Spring Valley is likely the No. 2 seed with another win. Irmo, River Bluff, Dutch Fork and Lexington are all battling for third place.
The Yellow Jackets have two region games remaining – River Bluff and Dutch Fork. Irmo lost to both earlier this season.
“We all play each other right here towards the end,” Irmo coach Tim Whipple said. “This was a huge win for us for region finish. I’m just hopeful we can build off of this win.”
It took the play of the senior trio to pull it off. Spring Valley (10-8, 6-3) trailed by as many as nine in the first half but ripped off a 26-9 run that gave them a 44-36 lead entering the fourth quarter.
The lead was short-lived. Hill opened the quarter with four free throws before Young scored seven straight that tied it at 47. Heath gave the Yellow Jackets the lead for good on the next possession, and Irmo executed down the stretch to preserve the win.
Spring Valley had a chance to force overtime, but the shot at the buzzer was short.
Irmo (14-7, 5-5) scored on 10 of 13 offensive possessions in the fourth quarter after turning it over nine times in the third quarter alone.
“This is the best end of a game we’ve had the whole year,” Whipple said. “We gave ourselves a chance to win and then we did win instead of finding a way to lose. That’s what we’ve been doing.”
Hill said everyone kept the faith despite being down eight with eight minutes to play. Young and Hill combined to score 19 of the 21 points in the final quarter.
“Going into the fourth quarter, we saw we were down by eight,” Hill said. “We just talked and kept believing. Me and Javonte had to do what seniors do and get the job done.”
Hill led the way with 22 points and eight rebounds. Young finished with 11 points with all of them coming in the fourth quarter. Heath added seven points, eight rebounds and four assists. Fellow senior Hasuan Rivers chipped in with 13 points.
“We don’t want to finish lower than third. Every game is a must win from here on out,” Hill said. “We’re playing with an intensity we weren’t playing with earlier in the year.”
The Spring Valley girls clinched the region title with a 79-49 win over Irmo. The Vikings got 21 points each from Taylor Lewis and Ashley Williamson.
Irmo 57, Spring Valley 54
I – Winston Hill 22, Hasuan Rivers 13, Javonte Young 11, Heath 7, Caldwell 2, Rivers 2. SV – Jacobie Elkins 15, Julian Smith 10, J. Williams 8, Moore 8, R. Williams 7, Jones 4, Cohens 2.
Spring Valley 79, Irmo 49
I – Madison Dopico 10, Brooks 8, Hampton 6, Tucker 6, Scott 4, Thomas 4, Caldwell 4, Wagstaff 3, Lovett 2, Taylor 2. SV – Taylor Lewis 21, Ashley Williamson 21, Destiny Coleman 12, L. Taylor 9, Wiley 7, Wall 7, K. Taylor 2.