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Byrnes Beats Spartanburg To Open Region

The #5-ranked James F Byrnes Rebels would look to pick up that big first region win on Wednesday night as they started their region 2-5A slate with a tough test at home against a resurgent Spartanburg. 


The Vikings, now under the coaching guidance of former Thomas Ryan assistant and USC Upstate alum Zac Rich, wrapped up their non-region schedule at 11-5 overall and averaged just shy of 64 points per game in that stretch. They are a fairly young team, but feature a lot of nice pieces that set a solid foundation for them such as Zeke Bell-Boyd, Dyllan Harris, Shrawmaine Carson, and Brailun Thomas. 


The Vikings, despite their youth, play a physical and aggressive style of basketball and tend to get off to fast and intense starts. Byrnes was going to have to match them beat for beat early on in order to begin to wear the Vikings down. 


“Spartanburg had my full attention after seeing them play and doing a scout off several films. Coach Rich has 7 very good sophomores that play guard, wing, and post. And they compete – which I love”, said Byrnes Head Coach Layne Fowler. 


In the early stages, both teams’ physicality came to the forefront. Neither squad got off to a fast start on offense, with the Vikings limiting Byrnes to just 50% shooting the ball (8 of 16, 6-8 from the field and 2 for 6 from three point range) in the game’s opening 8 minutes. Spartanburg forced a lot of turnovers and made sure the Rebels could not easily make plays in the low post. Yet still, the rebels made just enough shots while holding the Vikes to just 4 for their first 15 shooting the ball to pull out to a 20-11 lead heading into the 2nd stanza. 


In the 2nd quarter, Spartanburg chipped all the way back to within 4 before the Rebels finally got their rhythm back thanks to a 5-2 run behind a 3 from Evan Enos and a floater for 2 from Colt Fowler, which would be his only points of the night. From there, the old adage that you can’t let a good team get hot proved itself true. The Rebs opened up a 37-24 lead heading into the half and only continued to build on it over the final 16 minutes. But it is not so much the fact they pulled away that is both impressive and a good sign for this team going forward. It is how they did it. 


The Rebels have one player that is consistently a double digit offensive performer. That is Senior Point Guard Will Fowler, who tallied 18 points in the contest Wednesday night – enough for a tie for the team lead in points. 


Kayzzin McDowell, who is always a danger when he is confident and takes a lot of shots, also logged 18, while junior Forward Evan Enos logged 13.

“I thought Will picked his spots really well as far as how to impact this game and a lot of that had to do with getting Kayzzin good looks. They were having great communication and phenomenal dialogue out there on the court and Kayzzin hit some big time threes. He also got a great lob dunk and he continues to rebound in traffic against bigger guys. Evan Enos has also now put together two really complete games in a row. We know he has that in him and we need it”, said Fowler. 


There was also a breakout performance. Junior Guard Jamari Cullen came on strong in the 4th quarter after scoring just 2 points in the 3rd quarter, helping the Rebels to run away with a 9 point burst, part of a 13 point showing in the 2nd half to tie him with Evan Enos for 2nd leading scorer. 


“Jamari has been high on our staff’s radar for quite some time, but he has been inconsistent in games. He competes extremely hard in practice everyday and he’s earning our trust to get more quality game minutes and we expect that to continue”, said Coach Fowler. 


In short, the Rebels have a roster that is not void of guys that can step up and give a double digit performance on any given night, which is a huge plus when you are in the grind of playing in the toughest region in the state. 


The Rebels went on to win 84-62 to get that crucial first region win as well as up their overall record to 14-4, and will now turn their sights towards a 7:30 home date with the Boiling Springs Bulldogs on Friday night, who very nearly pulled off a huge upset on Wednesday in a 60-58 loss to Dorman. 


“Coach {Craig} Martin is a very good coach and he coaches his kids hard over at Boiling Springs. I love playing them for the competition. They are playing a lot better after beating JL Mann and Hillcrest and they nearly pulled off a big region win tonight. We know our region is stacked with talent and you throw in hard-working coaches that maximize what they get out of their kids well, and you get some big time battles on the hardwood. We have a veteran group of guys that understands winning region games – especially at home – and so far we have been able to do that”, said Layne Fowler.


Spartanburg, now 11-6 on the season, will take on another resurgent program on Friday night as they host the Gaffney Indians with a 7:30 tip.

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