Rebels on to Round Two
The 5A basketball playoffs got underway officially Wednesday night with the Dorman Cavaliers notching a win over Nation Ford to move on to round 2. But, for most of the teams, Thursday night tipped things off. The 2-seeded Byrnes Runnin’ Rebels played host to the Blythewood Bengals for a shot to advance a step closer to the prize.
The Rebels have been trademarked by 2 things this season. Speed and intensity on defense that takes away the inside and forces a lot of turnovers. That plus an innate ability to make big shots from anywhere on the floor has caused a lot of opponents to pull their hair out in frustration as they play from behind. That playing from behind and having nowhere else to go has forced a lot of bad rushed shots from the perimeter by the Rebels’ opposition this season.
Thursday night’s game was certainly no different. It goes without saying – “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
After both teams struggled out of the gate, Byrnes built up a cushion by putting together a 10-2 run in the 2nd quarter that helped make for a 40-30 halftime lead. But, here’s another “duh” statement for you – it is tough to be a bad team in basketball and make the playoffs.
Blythewood is still a very capable offensive team when they are able to find a rhythm. The Bengals averaged nearly 60 points per game coming into the postseason. They are even more dangerous when their opposition goes cold for an extended period of time or cannot get out of their own way.
The game flipped twice in the 2nd half. The first time, Blythewood came out of the gate in the 3rd stanza on a 17-8 run, cutting to within a possession of the Rebels. That run was snapped by a clutch layup by Kobe Staggs when the Runnin’ Rebs needed it in the worst way.
After Byrnes took things to the final 8 minutes leading 54-47, midway through the 4th quarter the Rebels led by their largest margin of the night at 17 points. Then the turnover bug hit with a turbulent force. Everything from bad passes to communication issues to straight up picks by Blythewood plagued the Rebels for the better part of a roughly 5 minute span, allowing the Bengals to once again pull things back to within striking distance, trailing by just 6 with under a minute to play.
In the final 45 seconds of the game, the Bengals struggled to get the big basket they needed and were ultimately forced to try and even things out at the freethrow line. But, the only things that came up clutch was Jacson Walker and Kade Caton, who combined to go 3-4 from the charity stripe over the last 15 seconds to put the game on ice.
The Rebels picked up the 68-61 win thanks to a “postseason moment” kind of performance from Kobe Staggs, who would have made his namesake proud tonight with 30 points to lead the team. Kayzzin McDowell logged 16 points as the only other Rebel in double figures. Kade Caton was the 3rd leading scorer with 6.
The Rebels will now turn their attention to a road trip to battle the #1 seeded TL Hanna Yellow Jackets on Saturday.