A spectacular season came to an end on Tuesday evening at Blythewood. The Wildcats played their hearts out for all 32 minutes. At times it looked like the Bengals would pull away and cruise to a win as they did in their previous 2 meetings this season. But each time Lexington clawed back, tying the contest and even taking several leads.
Bailey Harris was worn out after a busy night of coaching. “What an incredible 3 game road playoff stretch by this group. I couldn’t be more proud of a team.”
Blythewood led the way during the 1st quarter and after the first 8 minutes the Bengals were up 15-10.
With 2:39 until halftime and down by 3 points, a Caleb Shackleford put back brought his team within a single point. On the ensuing possession, a Lexington steal led to a Darius Bryant layup and a Wildcat lead. After a Blythewood jumper for 2, Bradley Foulks hit a long 3 pointer and put Lexington up 28-26. Blythewood would respond and take a 29-28 lead at the half.
Midway through the 3rd quarter, Bryant drove the paint and scored on a layup to break a 37-37 tie. The Bengals responded again, taking a 55-43 lead, but Lexington scored 5 in a row to make it 55-48 after 3.
With 4:45 left in the game, the score stood at 63-61. Caleb Shackleford drove hard, powered one in, and was fouled but missed on the free throw. It was tied again. The back and forth scores continued and after 2 free throws by Darius Bryant, the scoreboard showed Blythewood up 68-66 with 1 minute to play. A Bengal score and 2 more Bryant free throws made it 70-68 with 28 seconds left.
The turning point came just a couple of seconds later. After Blythewood missed on a 1 and 1, Bryant drove to the hoop and was knocked to the floor. What looked to be a foul was not called and the Cats were forced to foul. The Bengals were good on both free throws. Bryant launched a midcourt shot that was good for 3 but only 0.5 seconds showed on the clock and a very good Blythewood Bengal team would move on to the Lower State Final to face Irmo.
Darius Bryant scored 26 points and wrapped up his Lexington High School career with 1651 points, second best in history. Caleb Shackleford was good for 19 and will play one more time on his home floor in the North-South All Star Game in March.
Lexington finishes the 2016-17 season with a 22-7 mark. It’s the highest win total since 2011-12 when the Wildcats were 4A State Runners Up.
The entire senior class made an impact during the season. Coach Harris will have big shoes to fill as he loses the following players to graduation: Caleb Shackleford, Bryce Wilkins, Darius Bryant, Will Haney, Colby Cain, Chase Neuberger, and Isaiah Davenport.
Lexington 10 18 20 23 71
Blythewood 15 14 26 19 74
Darius Bryant: 3 three-pointers, 6 two-pointers, 5 of 8 free throws for 26 points
Caleb Shackleford: 8 two-pointers, 3 of 6 free throws for 19 points
Bradley Foulks: 2 three-pointers, 2 two-pointers, 1 of 3 free throws for 11 points
Will Haney: 2 three-pointers, 1 two-pointer for 8 points
Chase Neuberger: 2 two-pointers for 4 points
Mason Carver: 1 three-pointer for 3 points