Ridge View will honor the memory of former player Darnell Watson, a Winthrop University student who died in a automobile accident in September, in between games of tonight’s doubleheader against Pinewood Prep.
Monday’s outings against the defending SCISA boys and girls state champions mark the final tune-up for the Blazers prior to the start of Region 4-4A play on Friday at home against Rock Hill.
The Blazers boys team (5-9) closed out a killer December schedule on a high note. Ridge View turned in a strong showing at the Roundball Classic tournament in Charleston. After dropping a last-second 55-54 decision to Pinewood Prep in the tourney opener on Dec. 28, RV ended a six-game losing streak with wins over John Carroll (Bel Air, MD) 60-54 and Our Savior New American (Centereach, NY) 77-63.
Jamar Gillespie had 13 points, seven rebounds, three steals and two assists vs. Pinewood Prep, but the Blazers blew a golden opportunity to win when it went just 1-for-4 at the free-throw line in the final five seconds of the game. Ridge View was 12-forr-22 at the line in the game.
“We need to be able to make our free throw shots at a reasonable level to win,” said coach John Combs.
“Against the quality teams we play, shooting 55% from the FT line is not going to win you many games. At the same time if we defended their 3-point shot just a little better then we would have won. Overall it was a statistically a very weird game for both teams - both teams shot better from the field from 3 point range than from 2 point range. That should not happen. Both of us shot free throws terribly. We had too many mental lapses during the game to beat a quality team like Pinewood. There were times we were really good, but to win against a good team when your shots are not falling very well you can not have too many mental errors on defense and expect to win.”
The losing skid can to an end thanks to a 37-29 second-half rally against John Carroll. Gillespie had 15 points to lead the scoring parade against, but he received solid support from Mike Green (13 points, seven rebounds, three assists, five blocks) and Jamie Portee (10 points).
Ridge View trailed 19-8 with 6:01 to go in the first half, but went on a 15-6 run from there to cut the Carroll lead to 25-23 at the break.
“It was great for us to get a win like this against a well-respected, out-of-state program,” said Combs.
“We had to fight from behind to get the win. Our defense was just patient enough to allow us to wear down John Carroll enough so we were able to make some plays down the stretch to win the game. This was a hard game to play because John Carroll pretty much the whole game was moving the ball around – many times with out really looking to score – trying to stall in hopes we would wear down or break down just enough to give them some easy baskets. For the most part our guys did a good job of staying focused on our team defensive principles.”
The Blazers took command in the second half again Our Savior New America, outscoring the New Yorkers 39-25 after intermission on the way to a 77-63 win. Gillespie capped a strong tournament showing with a team high 18 points. Green pumped in 16 points on 7-for-10 shooting from the field and grabbed a team high six rebounds. Jared Johnson chipped in 13 point, point guard Portee had eight points and seven assists and Cameron Lee tallied eight points, including two key 3-pointers.
“It was very much a quality win for us,” said Combs.
“Our Savior’s starting five is really strong and could compete with the best teams in SC. I am really proud on how our team came out and focused and followed the game plan. Our team depth of 12 players and our pressure defense simply wore them down. did not have anyone to bring off the bench that could handle the ball. We had a little lead in the later part of the game and then Jamar Gillespie and Mike Green got into foul trouble and had to pull them off the floor. Trent Dickerson came off the bench and did a great job in crunch time when Jamar and Mike got into in foul trouble. He took care of the ball (four assists, just one turnover). Jamie did a great job of being a point guard and a defensive stopper. It is really hard to be a quality point guard on offensive and be a shut down defensive guy in the same game, but Jamie got it down for us today.
“I am really proud of our whole team for this win. It is not always easy to play with great focus on the third day of the tournament.” The Ridge View girls, unlike the boys, are back in action in the wake of a long holiday break. The Blazers have not played since beating a traveling Australian team 78-43 on Dec. 17 to up its record to 8-3.
Terrence Gibson’s team made some noise in December with good showings against Region 5-4A heavyweights Irmo and Dutch Fork. The Blazers swept Irmo and split with Dutch Fork.
Jazzmine Johnson rang up 23 points and Elizebeth Styles tallied 19 in RV’s 57-50 win over Class 4A second-ranked Irmo on Dec. 3. Alexus Jackson scored only three points, but was key on the boards with 11 rebounds. The Blazers were excellent at the free-throw line in the big win, converting 14 of 18 chances. Styles went 9-for-10, while Jackson canned all four of her attempts.
Styles fired in 20 points and Johnson added 11 in Ridge View’s even more impressive 50-37 road win over the Yellow Jackets on Dec. 8. Styles was also credited with six assists and five steals. Johnson’s fine all-around performance featured seven assists, six rebounds and four steals. Maya Adams ruled the glass with 12 rebounds.
The Blazers earned a split with Dutch Fork thanks to a 58-48 triumph on Dec. 11. The Silver Foxes prevailed 62-54 in the regular-season opener for both teams on Dec. 1. Johnson was outstanding in the rematch – 24 points on 9-for-15 shooting from the field, seven rebounds, five assists and six steals. Styles closed with 18 points, six assists, four boards and three steals. Adams and Nicole Jones did solid work on the boards, finishing with eight and seven rebounds, respectively.
To date, Johnson is averaging 13.9 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 3.4 steals. Styles is averaging 12.3 points, 5.9 assists and 4.3 steals. Adams (7.9 rpg), Jones (6.0) and Jackson (5.9) have shouldered the load on the boards.