What a difference a week makes for the Irmo basketball team.
A week ago, the Yellow Jackets were shut out in three games in the Chick-fil-A Tournament. But they bounced back to win the Midas Highlander Classic with a 66-55 victory against Blythewood on Wednesday night at Heathwood Hall.
"Obviously the competition is a little bit different," Irmo coach Tim Whipple said. "But realistically, I'm surprised that we won it. We beat a good Blythewood team and this should do a lot for our confidence going forward."
The Bengals (4-6) held a big size advantage on the inside, like most opponents do on the Yellow Jackets. But the guard play of Jordan Roper, David Frazier and twins Jeremy and Josh Clinkscales proved to be the difference.
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All four scored in double figures, led by Roper's 19 points, but more importantly they disrupted the Blythewood offense on the perimeter. Irmo forced 25 turnovers, with many of them coming in the backcourt that were turned into baskets or drew fouls.
"I thought our defense made a difference," Roper said. "We didn't really play well offensively but we forced turnovers and were able to turn them into points."
Each team had big runs, but going into the final eight minutes the Yellow Jackets held a 42-38 lead. The teams traded baskets to open the period before Carlton Williams, who finished with a game-high 23 points, converted a 4-point play to tie it with six and a half minutes remaining.
Irmo (8-4) answered with a 16-5 run that built the lead to double-digits with two minutes remaining. Roper had 11 of his 19 points in the final quarter, and if the Yellow Jackets would have converted their free throws it would have been a runaway victory. Irmo went 9-for-16 from the free throw line.
Roper feels the three wins in three days will help the Yellow Jackets once region play resumes next week.
"This does a lot for our confidence," the sophomore said. "You don't really get a lot of confidence from losing."
Whipple thought his team accomplished a lot during the tournament. After playing a core of seven players last week, Whipple was able to get everyone playing time in these three games.
"The good thing is it was an opportunity to get everybody involved and playing," Whipple said. "So often you aren't able to play everyone, so this will be a plus for us."
Blythewood coach Wendell Harris is in a rebuilding mode with a young team. He feels this tournament will help.
"We don't have a lot of kids with varsity experience and I think our immaturity showed at times," Harris said. "But every game we get to play we're growing and gaining experience, so playing in this type of format should really helps us."
B: Carlton Williams 23, Brown 7, Johnson 9, Miller 4, Davis 2, Harris 5, Bowers 2, Culbertson 3. I: Jordan Roper 19, David Frazier 12, Jeremy Clinkscales 11, Josh Clinkscales 10, Ranly 6, Amedee 5, Rogers 3.