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Byrnes Wins Big Mac Tourney

Over the course of the last 3 days, Byrnes High School’s Nelson Schofield Gymnasium played host to the Big Mac Shot Clock Classic, The tournament featured a solid field with a lot of the state’s top talent that included the #5 ranked team in the 4A ranks – the Catawba Ridge Copperheads, the #9-ranked team in 5A (Byrnes), JL Mann, Mauldin, Rock Hill, Columbia, and High Point Academy. 


The action boiled down to Friday night’s championship and final placement games, where Rock Hill battled Woodmont for the consolation bracket title, which went the Wildcats’ way 70-49. In the third place battle, JL Mann knocked off Mauldin 88-77. High Point locked up 7th place with a 77-37 rout of Columbia. 


And last, but definitely not least, the tournament championship came down to the 2 top 10 ranked squads from their respective classifications. 


The Byrnes Rebels, who last week lost 3 out of the 4 games they played, got back on track with back to back wins over Greer and Lanier (Georgia), meaning they were back on track to being the dangerous team that they have developed a reputation for being, and after running the table to the championship game, would face another tough test against a very good Catawba Ridge. 


As has been the trend for the Rebels of late, they got off to a quick start in this contest, and never looked back. Byrnes started the game on an 11-2 run behind a pair of three pointers from all-tournament team selection Kayzzin McDowell, another trey ball from his fellow all-tournament selection in Colt Fowler, and a Will Fowler layup. 


In the opening eight minutes, the “Runnin’ Rebels” forced plenty of turnovers and limited the Copperheads to just 9 points on just 3 of 8 shooting, giving them a 23-9 advantage heading to the 2nd quarter. 


The Rebs’ success hitting the three early on continued to carry over via Kayzzin McDowell, who only attempted (and made) two 2-point shots in the game. He went 7-12 from beyond the arch and made his lone free throw to complete a 3-point play, which propelled him to a team-leading 26 points, which was a nice follow up to his 19 points against JL Mann on Thursday night where he was 4-6 from three point range. 


“I’ve coached Kayzzin since 4th grade AAU ball and he is 100% a blessing to coach! He and I have a great relationship and that shows in our trust level. Kayzzin is a top 3 shooter out of all the kids I have coached in my 25 years, which says a lot. However, the best part is that he’s now an elite defender and rebounder as well, which makes him a complete player”, said Byrnes Head Coach Layne Fowler. 


Aside from McDowell, one of the more impressive performances Friday night came from the impressive Freshman Colt Fowler. He started the game 2-4 from three point range. He did not get much more in the way of offensive contribution until the 4th quarter, when he went 2-2 from the floor and 2-2 at the line. In total, he finished the game 5-8 shooting and 4-4 at the freethrow line to be the team’s 2nd-leading scorer with 16, just shy of a double-double with 8 assists as well. 


Asked about Colt’s versatility as a player, Coach Fowler had just this to say. 


“Colt has 2 things going for him that are uncoachable. He is fearless and he has an uncanny basketball IQ.” 


The Runnin’ Rebs had 2 others score in double figures as they went on to clinch the tournament championship with a “total team victory” 79-54. 


“We have 5 seniors that have played a lot of ball together, which has helped build our team chemistry. They are super competitive and that sets the tone for the whole team. I’m really honest with our captains Will {Fowler} and Kayzzin {McDowell} and they lead/convey their message in their own way, which helps the team”, said Layne Fowler about his team’s chemistry. 


Will Fowler followed up a team-leading 22 point night against JL Mann with 11 points on 5-10 shooting from the floor with 3 assists, which was more than enough to garner him the tournament MVP award.


“Will is the ultimate competitor and he’s always made his teammates better. He impacts winning, which is the most important attribute you can have. Especially if you do it from all aspects – running team, defense, playmaking, scoring, and competing every possession. It’s a true blessing to have him back on the floor and seeing him loving being back with his teammates”, said Coach Fowler. 


 KJ Stephens tallied 10 points on a perfect 4-4 from the floor and 2-2 at the charity stripe to be the lone other in double figures. 


Byrnes, now 9-3 on the season, will get back to action after the Holiday on December 28th, going up to Burke (NC) to compete in the Burke Christmas Tournament.

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