Malcolm Wilson saved his biggest block for last.
The 6-foot-11 Ridge View center swatted away a shot by Wilson High’s Frederick Mullins with two seconds left and hit a free throw as the Blazers defeated the Tigers, 74-70, on Saturday to win the Class 4A championship.
It was the Blazers’ first title in their second championship appearance and first one for Richland District 2 boys’ basketball. The championship gave Midlands schools five titles on the weekend, joining Gray Collegiate boys and girls teams from Spring Valley, Keenan and Newberry.
“Walyn Napper (teammate) and coach (Yerrick) Stoneman said guard four (Mullins) because he is a shooter,” said Wilson, who finished with seven blocks to go along with 15 points and 15 rebounds. “They said don’t let him get into you, and I tried to stay high like I always do. And I got, I looked up at the clock and said it was done then.”
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Wilson said he was a little nervous and almost “panicked” on the Tigers’ final possession because they had a smaller lineup in the game. Walyn Napper thought the Blazers should have played zone but they went with man and sent two guys out front to try and stop Wilson guard and Columbia native Alex Caldwell, who scored a game-high 30 points.
Caldwell decided to pass to Mullins in the corner when he saw the defenders, and Malcolm Wilson reached out to swat away the attempt and grab the rebound with 0.4 seconds left.
“Malcolm is only averaging five or six points a game and they wonder why is he a Division I player?” Stoneman said. “That is the reason why, because he can defend on the perimeter, block shots and it lets us be who we are in transition.”
Stoneman thinks losing close games early in the season helped his team for that moment in the championship game. Four of the Blazers’ seven losses were by five points or less.
Crosby Harris-James scored 20 points to lead Ridge View. His free throw put the Blazers up 73-70 with 46 seconds left.
Napper added 17 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. Javon Anderson scored 16. He had four of the team’s eight 3-pointers.
The Blazers, who trailed by as many as 10 points in the first half, used a 13-1 run to take a 66-55 lead with 4:03 left. Ridge View shot 65.2 percent in the second half, including 5-of-7 from 3-point range.
“We just wanted to come in and prove all the doubters wrong. We were doubted all summer and throughout the year but now we are here and we won a state championship,” Napper said. “And it is not just for us, it is for the community. They put in a lot of hard work for us this season.”
RV – Crosby Harris-James 20, Walyn Napper 17, Javon Anderson 16, Malcolm Wilson 15, Jenkins 4, Bynum 2. W – Alex Caldwell 30, Allen Williamson 11, Maine Gibson 11, Darius Rhodes 10, Williams 4, Carfley 4.