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“X” Man Scores Final Points For Ridge View As Talented Blazers Claim Second Straight AAAA Title With 65-52 Win Over Wilson

“X” Man Scores Final Points For Ridge View As Talented Blazers Claim Second Straight AAAA Title With 65-52 Win Over Wilson

By Chris Dearing

Special Contributor

Columbia--After not winning a state basketball championship since their inception, Ridge View has back-to-back titles after a 65-52 dismantling of Wilson March 2 at Colonial Life Arena in a rematch of last year’s Class AAAA championship game.

The Blazers started fast and put on a dazzling display of dunks, alley-oops and deep three-point shots with a roster that features 10 seniors.

“Back-to-back titles means I have good players,” said Ridge View coach Yerrick Stoneman. “It’s not necessarily coaching. The players are out there putting the work in. We have great players in that senior class, not only on the court, or football field but in the community as well.”

Last year, Ridge View had to rally late to put off the victory. This time, it was basically over by halftime when they led 32-22. If it wasn’t over then, by the time the lead reach 20 points in the third quarter, it certainly was.

Ja’von Benson and 6’11” Georgetown signee Malcolm Wilson opened the half with dunks. Benson followed with a stick back off an offensive rebound.

Walyn Napper then threw a pass off the backboard to Benson, who slammed it home before Cincere Scott hit a deep three-pointer. The run reached to 18-5 to give the Blazers a 47-27 lead with 2:54 remaining in the third quarter.   

That run was key according to Wilson coach Derrick McQueen.

“I take my hat off to those guys,” McQueen said. “They played a great game. We took quick shots and got a little antsy. Any time we took those quick shots, they were getting most of the rebounds, kicking it out to their guys and they were running. A team like that, you don’t need to give them easy baskets.”  

The blowout victory capped a postseason run in which the Blazers average margin of victory was 32.4 points in the five games. The closest win before the championship was a 76-53 win over Wren in the Upper State finals.

Napper led the charge. The 6’1” point guard capped his spectacular career with 16 points, eight assists, six steals and five rebounds to go along with his second ring.

“We’ve come so far from my tenth-grade year when we lost to Wren in the third round,” Napper said. “We came back last year with a whole new set of players to win a state championship but to go out like we did was a special moment with the alley-oops and the guys knocking down three’s like they did. It was a fun way to close it out.”

Benson finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds with Scott chipping in with 14 points. Wilson had seven blocks.

“We like big games. It’s not like Nintendo where you can hit the rest button and start over,” Stoneman said. “Our focus that went into practice you could see it in their eyes. They were so focused and luckily came out and accomplished their goals.”

The loss didn’t diminish what Wilson accomplished this season, in which they finished with a 17-9 record.

“I love my team,” McQueen said. “We weren’t supposed to even be here. To lose by 13 in the state championship game, I’m so proud of what we accomplished this last year. There’re no losers. We lost but we still won. I’m proud of this team and the support we’ve got.   

The Blazers added a special moment at the end. Senior Xavier Major, who is autistic, checked in during the final minute and scored the final points with 43 seconds remaining.

“X is one of us,” Stoneman said. “A lot of people say he has special needs. He’s not special needs. He’s part of the family. For him to score there was very special. I give hats off to Wilson and their coaching staff and players because they didn’t have to let that pass go through.”

W – Darius Boatwright 17, Allen Williamson 12, Gibson 7, Brackett 8, Butler 3, Brown 2, Ballentine 3. RV – Walyn Napper 16, Ja’von Benson 14, Cincere Scott 14, Wilson 2, Harris-James 4, Rice 3, Jenkins 2, Anderson 8, Major 2.  

 


© 2017 High School Sports Report

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