RIDGE SPRING — After a quarter of Wednesday night’s game, Ridge Spring-Monetta’s boys’ basketball team looked poised to contend with visiting foe Strom Thurmond, trailing by only four.

Then the Rebel defense took over, stretching the lead to 17 by halftime on the way to a 59-34 victory.

Daquarius Johnson led the Rebels (3-3) with 16 points on the game, but it was his early play that got the visitors going. The 6-foot-4 sophomore hit five of his first six shots, including two threes, to provide most of the Strom Thurmond offense in the game’s early minutes.

Head coach Bo Rouse said that he was pleased with the way Johnson responded to a minor knee ailment from Tuesday’s game against Aiken.

“He’s very important,” Rouse said. “He’s going to be our key.”

Ridge Spring Monetta (0-6) senior Mike Jones also got out to a fast start to help his team stay in the game after one frame with eight points, and he cleared 10 before halftime. Head coach Mark Wright said that Jones played second fiddle to All-State selection Bradshea Jeffery last season, but now is Jones’ time to shine.

“He’s one of my starters from last year’s team,” Wright said. “He made All-Region ... so he was like a dark horse. Now it’s time for him to step up.”

Jones finished the game with a team-high 14 points, but his progress was slowed by the Rebels’ pressure defense. Led by Hykeem Brooks in the backcourt, Rouse’s team made every pass difficult and created far too many transition points for the Trojans to handle.

“We turned the heat up,” Rouse said.

Brooks, who has only recently returned to basketball after football season and a trip to the SCADA North-South All-Star game on Dec. 8, also added 14 points, many of which came on layups and offensive rebounds.

“He’s getting there,” Rouse said of Brooks. “It took him a while to get his feet under him, but he’s getting where we want him to be.”

The second quarter is what sunk the Trojans’ effort to stay competitive. The Rebels won every quarter, but the margin in each of the other three quarters was only four points. Strom Thurmond won the second quarter 17-4, and Wright said that those offensive droughts are when his team has shown a tendency to regress into bad habits.

“We have those lapses where we can’t score,” Wright said. “When we have those lapses, we start doing those things we’re not supposed to do.”

Wright is confident in the Trojans, though. He feels that if his team avoids that regression, it can start to win ball games.

“Other than that, we can play with anybody,” Wright said.

Ridge Spring-Monetta will hit the road on Friday for its region opener against Hunter-Kinard-Tyler in a battle of two teams of Trojans. This will also allow RS-M a measure of revenge after H-K-T won the play-in game for the final playoff spot from Region 4-A after last season.

Also on Friday, Strom Thurmond will host rival Saluda.

ST 16 17 12 14 - 59

RSM 12 4 8 10 - 34

ST (3-3)—JaSergio Kennion 1 2-4 4, Daquarius Johnson 7 0-0 16, Josh Hamilton 1 0-0 2, Jaylan Robinson 2 0-0 5, Baylor Jones 1 0-0 2, Kendall Hill 1 0-2 2, Deontrez Mealing 1 0-0 2, Ryan Williams 4 0-0 8, Ty Brooks 2 0-0 4, Hykeem Brooks 7 0-0 14. Totals 27 2-6 59.

3-pointers: Johnson (2), Robinson

RSM (0-6)—Mike Jones 7 0-0 14, Alonzo Smith 4 0-0 8, Desmond Brown 1 0-0 2, Travious Wigfall 4 0-1 8, Justin Williams 0 0-1 0, Matt McGee 0 2-2 2. Totals 16 2-4 34.

3-pointers: None


RIDGE SPRING — It wasn’t pretty, but Strom Thurmond (3-3) got the win over Ridge Spring-Monetta (2-4) in Wednesday’s girls’ matchup.

After leading 7-2 at the end of the first quarter, the Rebels trailed 18-13 after three frames. Through several trips to the free-throw line and some pressure defense, the visitors were able to pull out the win with a 17-point fourth quarter.

Leading the way for the Rebels was Michaela Griffin with eight points, followed by Jasmine Mealing with seven. Head coach Yolanda Settles said that her team won by virtue of grit and determination.

“Just outhustled and working a little bit harder,” she said of the keys to the Rebel victory. “That was the difference in the game.”

Ty’Miyah Tyler paced the Trojans with 10 points, including eight in the second half to spark the run that gave the home team its fourth-quarter lead. Center Raven Valentine scored eight points for RS-M.

Ridge Spring-Monetta will go on the road for its Region 4-A opener against Hunter-Kinard-Tyler on Friday, while Strom Thurmond will host Saluda the same day.

ST 7 4 2 17 - 30

RSM 2 8 8 9 - 27

ST (3-3)—Jasmine Mealing 3 0-0 7, Ebony Robinson 2 0-0 2, Chesnee Robinson 1 2-4 4, Michaela Griffin 3 2-4 8, Shay Widner 2 0-2 4, Shakyra Martin 1 3-6 5. Totals 12 7-16 30.

3-pointers: Mealing

RSM (2-4)—Ashley Perry 1 0-2 2, Shanquita Brown 1 1-4 3, Ty’Miyah Tyler 3 3-4 10, Raven Valentine 4 0-1 8, Ebony Hines 2 0-0 4, Porsha Quattlebaum 0 0-3 0. Totals 11 4-14 27.

3-pointers: Tyler

Jeremy Timmerman has a journalism degree from Mercer University and has been at the Aiken Standard since June 2010.