It wasnt supposed to end like this. But in the playoffs, one loss ends your season and that is exactly what happened to the number No. 2 ranked South Pointe boys Thursday night at home against Byrnes. The Rebels used a frustrating zone defense to make the Stallions prove they could hit jump-shots and left town with a 71-62 first round win in the AAAA state playoffs.
South Pointe likes to slash and drive to the basket and make plays getting out and running the court, but Byrnes limited those opportunities until late in the game when it was too late.
They are a really good team, Byrnes coach Layne Fowler said. Youre not ranked number two if youre not good. I felt what gave us the best fighting chance after watching video was the zone. We didnt just sit in it, we moved. My guys played their butts off and they prepared the last two days with a focus we probably havent had this season. Our region prepared us and everybody starts 0-0 in the playoffs.
After Anthony Johnsons bucket to open the game, the Stallions never led again. The Rebels jumped out 9-2 and led 17-12 after one period. A basket by Mustafia Love tied the score at 20 with 6:03 left in the first half, but Byrnes scored the final six points in the half to lead 34-26 and put the pressure on the higher-seeded Stallions. The Rebels pushed their lead to as much as 44-32 midway through the third quarter, but a 9-0 South Pointe run cut into that lead and it was 46-41 after three. Back-to-back scores by Johnson, who led all scorers with 26 and just played all night like his hair was on fire, cut the deficit to 58-54 with just under three minutes remaining. Johnson had ten in the fourth. But the Stallions could not get the big stop when they needed it all night and Janson Brown scored on the other end to push the lead back to six. Janson then followed a miss with a rebound and nifty pass underneath to Syverio Jones, who led the Rebels with 18, for a layup and a 62-54 lead.
Trailing by six and eight respectively in the last two minutes, both Tyreece Brice and Johnson missed badly on front ends of one-and-ones. South Pointe was 11-of-19 from the line but it was only making three three-pointers, two of which came from Brice in the last minute, that killed them. Byrnes hit five of their last six free throws in the last minute to put the game on ice.
I felt like every time we made a run we could not get a stop defensively, South Pointe coach Melvin Watson said. I thought we got great looks early and late but we just couldnt knock them down. And those were shots I would tell my guys to take every time. It was just one of those night it wasnt falling.
South Pointe sped up the pace late but it wasnt enough.
It was a tough matchup tonight for us but making shots cured all things, he said. When youre making shots you can get into your rhythm and press but we didnt make shots.
The Stallions lost by three on the homecourt of the eventual state champ Irmo last year and felt they had a shot to go further. They started and finished the season with their highest ranking ever at number two and ran the table to a perfect 14-0 season in Region 3-AAAA. But this is not when or where they expected their season to end. Still, Watson was proud of what this team and his seniors have done.
Every year a one or two seed gets knocked out and this year it happened to be us,Watson said. I hope the other guys coming up see the hard work and can carry on the legacy. But at the end of the day the big ticket everybody wants is the state championship. To come up short is tough. I love those guys.
Byrnes 71, South Pointe 62
BYRNES 71 Bouvier Howard 14, Tevin Sullivan 2, Jaylan Foster 13, Tavin Richardson 7, Syverio Jones 18, Janson Brown 8, Tyrique Glenn 5, Tegan Waters 4.
SOUTH POINTE 62 Mustafia Love 9, Chris Frazier 5, Tyreece Brice 15, Anthony Johnson 26, Montez McCullough 7.
Team fouls: Byrnes19; South Pointe 21. Free throw shooting: Byrnes 18-27; South Pointe 11-19. Three-pointers: Byrnes 3(Jones 2, Howard); South Pointe 3(Brice 2, Frazier). Records: Byrnes 14-9; South Pointe 21-5.