Perhaps the Ridge View boys basketball team had a bit of added motivation on Monday night against visiting Pinewood Prep.
The Blazers honored the memory of former RV student and basketball player Darnell Watson, a Winthrup University student who was killed in an automobile accident in December. With Watson’s parents and many of his high school teammates in attendance, Ridge View officially retired his No. 31 jersey.
“Darnell epitomize what it meant to be a student-athlete. The student came first, but being a part of a team was also very important to him,” said RV varsity assistant coach Daryl Heath, who has known the Watson family for many years.
On the court, the Blazers avenged a tough 55-54 loss to the four-time defending SCISA champion Panthers at the Roundball Classic in Charleston last week. In fact, it was no contest. Ridge View’s 19-7 burst in the second quarter paved the way to a 69-48 triumph that up its season record to 6-9.
Eleven of the 12 players that saw action contributed points to the balanced Blazers attack. Jamaal Brantley was the nominal scoring leader with 13 points, and he receiving double-digit backing from Jamar Gillespie (10) and Jamie Portee (11).
“Right from the start of the game we played with a very high energy level and enthusiasm,” said head coach John Combs.
“We were able to get the ball up the floor quickly and get some easy baskets in transition. There is no question that our two main strengths right now are team defense and team depth. Before the season started I honestly felt we only had seven players ready to play significant minutes. Now, I feel like we have 12 guys we can put in at anytime and perform well and that totals would be higher if it were not for injuries.”
Pinewood Prep hit seven 3-point field goals in the game, but had only five scores inside the arc.
The Blazers open defense of their 2009 Region 4-4A title Friday at home against Rock Hill.