High School Basketball

One of the Midlands’ most respected basketball coaches to take over at Westwood

Watch: The final seconds of Westwood’s win over Ridge View

Westwood defeated Ridge View, 58-57, in a thrilling final seconds Feb. 8, 2019.
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Westwood defeated Ridge View, 58-57, in a thrilling final seconds Feb. 8, 2019.

Westwood is turning to a familiar name in the Midlands to lead its basketball program.

John Combs will be the next Redhawks’ boys basketball coach. His hiring was approved at a Richland 2 school board meeting on Tuesday.

Combs replaces Ty Baumgardner, who stepped down earlier this month after one season to move back to Georgia. The Redhawks are coming off the best season in school history and went 25-2, sharing the Region 3-4A title with Ridge View before losing to Greenville in the second round of the playoffs.

It is an incredible blessing and honor to be the next basketball coach at Westwood High School,” Combs said. “Westwood has been one of the state’s best basketball programs over the past few years and now to be trusted to lead their program is humbling.”

Combs said the familiarity knowing Westwood principal Cheryl Guy and athletics Jason Powell was a big plus. Combs worked on Powell’s staff in his first coaching job.

Combs spent the past three seasons at Ben Lippen but resigned from there last week. The Falcons lost in the first round of the SCISA 3A playoffs this season.

Before Ben Lippen, Combs had a successful run at Ridge View and led the Blazers to the playoffs in 10 of his 11 seasons there. Ridge View won two region titles, and played for a state championship in 2011 when it lost to Irmo. The Blazers also made it to the Lower State semifinals in 2007 and 2013.

Combs also spent one season as head coach at Silver Bluff and three years as an assistant at Spring Valley.

In addition to coaching, Combs is heavily involved with the South Carolina Basketball Coaches Association and with the organization’s North-South All-Star game and coaches hall of fame.

Combs also helped out with the Bojangles’ Bash basketball showcase when he was at Ridge View.

Westwood is losing five seniors from this year’s team including Winthrop signee Russell Jones but returns six juniors for next year.

“It will be extremely difficult to replace the leadership, toughness, and overall production of the five seniors,” Combs said. “I do know there is solid a group of returning tough players that will be excited for the opportunity and challenge to continue to build the program upward.”

There will be a meet-and-greet with Combs on Thursday at Westwood’s gym at 6 p.m.

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