Irmo (5-1) ran past short-handed Daniel for a 60-48 first round win on Tuesday at the Chick-fil-A Classic.
The reigning Class 3A champion Lions (4-4) got on the board first on a 3-pointer by Antonio Cannon in the first minute of play, but the Yellow Jackets countered with back-to-back 3-pointers by Josh Clinkscales and Jordan Roper to take the lead for good at the 13:46 mark of the first half.
Irmo dominated the first half, shooting 50% from the field (14-for-28) while building a 36-19 lead at the break. Irmo maintained a comfortable double-digit advantage for most of the second half until Daniel made one last bid to get back into contention.
The Lions pulled within 49-39 with 5:45 to go on back-to-back 3-pointers by Cannon and Tyus Gaines. But Irmo responded with two great plays by senior David Frazier to push the margin back to 14 points.
First Frazier hit Roper with a bullet pass on the left baseline from the right wing. Roper was fouled on the play and converted both free throws with 4:40 remaining. Then after the team exchanged fruitless possessions, Frazier turned a steal in the backcourt into an easy basket to up the Jackets lead to 53-39 with 3:27 remaining.
Roper led Irmo with 21 points, a total that included three thundering dunks – one come off an alley-oop pass from Frazier. Frazier rang up 10 points, eight rebounds, two assists and two steals in a solid all around performance.
Cannon, an all-state pick last season, took game scoring honors with 23 points, but Daniel was without all-state junior forward Shaq Lawson, who is averaging 19 points and 13 rebounds so far. Lawson, who stayed at home to tend to a family matter, is expected to rejoin the team when it plays again on Wednesday.
Irmo will face either Miami (FL) Norland or Rockdale County (GA) in a Classic II division semifinal game at 5:15 p.m. with the chance to not only play for a championship on Thursday, but present long-time coach Tim Wipple with his 550th career win.