5 Big Things: Byrnes Drums Rock Hill
The McDonald’s Big Mac Shot Clock Classic kicked off on Wednesday night at Byrnes High School, and the host Rebels rolled past the Rock Hill Bearcats by a final score of 90-52 in the opening round to advance into the winner’s bracket semifinals. Here are my biggest takeaways from the game.
1-Remember when Byrnes lost three out of four games in a one week stretch? This Rebels team sure looks like they don’t. Since falling by five points on the road against a talented Riverside group, Byrnes have picked up wins over then-undefeated Greer on the road, Lanier (GA) in Georgia, and last night over a struggling Rock Hill squad. The Runnin’ Rebels took it to a severely outmatched opponent through speed and athleticism in transition, as well as toughness and physicality on the interior. After a tight first quarter, Byrnes put up 36 second quarter points to open up a twenty-point lead and never looked back.
2-Byrne’s offense was cooking last night. Fast paced and efficient (more on why later…), the ball was in and out of hands in the blink of an eye. Often, that ball ended up in the shooting pocket of an open man. The Rebels connected on nine three-pointers in the game, and dominated scoring on second chances and off of turnovers as well. The gritty defense stood tall in the face of multiple charging violations called against the Bearcats and was active in a full court pressing zone throughout the game.
3-What makes this Byrnes team so dangerous headed into region play is how complementary all of the skillsets are in the Rebels rotation. Byrnes has go-to scorers it wants with the ball when the game is on the line, but every player seems to have a defined role and sticks to it. Wednesday night, Will Fowler led the team in scoring as he often does with 26 points and five three-pointers. He also quarterbacked the press on the defensive half and distributed to his teammates throughout the game. His younger brother Colt is a pass-first guard who is always looking for the open man at the three point line, or in the case of last night a few times that man was soaring to the rim in the form of Kayzzin McDowell for two alley-oops. McDowell and Kanife Hill round out the backcourt, KJ Stephens stretches out forwards and guards tough assignments on the other end, and valuable bench scorers like Conner Page and Sukhi Singh create sparks.
4-A quick note on the Bearcats. Rock Hill was 3-8 coming into this game, the lone future-Byrnes opponent they’ve played being Dorman where they lost by nearly 40. Rock Hill wasn’t tough enough to hang with Byrnes in the paint as the Rebels attacked strongly to the basket, converting several times through fouls. Byrnes Head Coach Layne Fowler kept a steady rotation of fresh legs coming off the bench to keep up the pace, and the Bearcats were clearly worn out early and never recovered.
5-A 35-second shot clock will be active in every game of this tournament, and honestly I only noticed once. By my count there was just one shot clock violation in the game, and the presence of the timer kept the offenses locked in on the basket and created open looks quickly. Not only did the pace of the game move quicker, the shot clock forces teams to be efficient in its half-court sets and more aggressive to put up open shots when they came by. The shot clock should absolutely be adopted in regular season play as soon as possible because the quality of play seen this week was some of the best I’ve seen all year, even in a 40-point blowout.