River Bluff falls to nationally-ranked Wheeler 66-38 at Chick-Fil-A Classic

Posted 12/28/22

Quite literary and figuratively, River Bluff boys’ basketball faced a “tall” order Dec. 27 in The Swamp.

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River Bluff falls to nationally-ranked Wheeler 66-38 at Chick-Fil-A Classic


Quite literary and figuratively, River Bluff boys’ basketball faced a “tall” order Dec. 27 in The Swamp.

The Gators’ opening opponent at the Chick-Fil-A Classic was nationally ranked Wheeler High School out of Marrieta, Ga. The Wildcats’ featured six players who measured either equally or longer than River Bluff’s tallest player 6-foot five center Brooks Bearden.

They also had four players committed to Division I schools, and three seniors ranked in the Top 100 of various recruiting websites.

River Bluff managed to stay close through one quarter. Eventually, Wheeler’s height advantage and physical play allowed it to pull away for a 66-38 victory.

“I think when we're working with teenagers, it's sometimes hard to nail down exactly what you want your total expectation to be,” River Bluff head coach Benjamin Lee said. “We talk all the time as a group, no matter who you're playing, the expectation is to compete with everything that you have. Whether you win or lose, you can be disappointed, but you won't be ashamed. If you go out there and you do not choose to compete and you roll over and lay down, then not only are you going to be disappointed, but you probably deserve to be ashamed at that point.

“And so, this is, we knew who they were. We're still trying to figure out who we are. Trying to work I mean, saw the game, it looked like two different teams at times. We're still putting our pieces together, figuring out how we can play well together. There are moments we can see what they can be, but them there are moments you can still see the work we've got ahead of us.”

River Bluff scored the first two points to hold its only lead of the game. While both teams each went 0-9 from three-point range in the first half, the Wildcats managed to build a lead behind its frontcourt led by forward Arrinten Page who finished with 15 points and a defense which scored 38 points off 17 steals.

University of Southern California commit Isaiah Collier had 14 points and helped spark a 14-0 run which stretched between the second and third quarters to turn a 20-16 contest into a 34-18 advantage.

Guard Yasir Cromer broke the seven-minute scoreless spell for the Gators with the first three-pointer of the game. River Bluff ended up outscored 29-7 in the third quarter and trailed as many as 34 points before outscoring Wheeler 15-11 in the fourth quarter.

Cromer, who finished with a team-high nine points, called Wheeler the toughest team the Gators have faced this season.

“Most teams we play in region they aren't as skilled and have that many as X factors as Wheeler did,” he said. “But it'll help us battle test guys and see who’s ready to play in region like what teams do and get us ready for the average team.”

Wheeler will face W.J. Keenan in a Dec. 29 semifinal, while River Bluff plays host to A.C. Flora in a consolation game. The matchup reunites Lee with former assistant and first-year Falcons’ head coach Ed Scott, who won a state title at Lower Richland over the Wildcats and was a Hall of Fame guard at Clemson University.

American Bracket

W.J. Keenan 53, A.C. Flora 47

Chrisean Oree scored 19 points and Jaylen Golston had 11 points and 11 rebounds as the Raiders used a late run to pull away from the Falcons.

Cooper Wiley had a game-high 22 points and Christopher Parker finished with 18 points and 14 rebounds for A.C. Flora.

Carolinas Challenge
Augusta Christian School 71, Charlotte Christian School 63
The second-most prolific scoring performance in tournament history was offset by the most blocks every.
John Lash scored 50 points on 22-37 field goal shooting and grabbed 14 rebounds for Charlotte Christian School. Only current NBA center Zion Williamson's 53 points on 25 field goals made in a Dec. 20, 2016 win over Gray Collegiate Academy was higher.
Lash also did not attempt a three-pointer as his team missed 1-16 from behind the arc.
D.J. Shine led the Lions with 31 points, Khaleel Pratt had 17 points and 14 rebounds and Braylen Smith finished 13. Teammate Luke Wilson had 11 blocked shots to tie the tournament record previously set by Isaiah Austin of Grace Prep on Dec. 20, 2010.  

Concord Academy 57, Cardinal Newman 52
J.J. Moore scored 17 points and Avion Pinner and Peter Asceric each posted double-doubles win the win.
Pinner had 14 points and 12 rebounds and 11 points and 11 rebounds for Concord Academy.
Russ White had 14 points to lead the Cardinals. Dorian Hard had 13 points, five rebounds and four steals and Josiah Peeples finished with 11 points.

Charlotte Country Day 74, Hartsville 47
Kameron Forman had a game-high 21 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and three blocks and Xavion Robinson finished with 12 points in the loss.
Amari Bethel had 19 points, Dallas Gardner had 13 points and six assists and Sam Turner and Carter Alessi each scored 10 points for Country Day.

Richland Northeast 63, Seaforth 34

Justice Johnson scored 20 points and had eight rebounds for the Cavaliers, the lone South Carolina team to defeat a non-Palmetto State team.

John Stevenson had 17 points and 10 rebounds and Tyshawn Davenport finished with 13 for Seaforth.

Girls Showcase

Camden 62, W.J. Keenan 42

The first-ever girls’ basketball game at the Chick-Fil-A Classic pitted featured a rematch of last year’s Class 3A final.

With future University of South Carolina women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley looking on, Lady Raiders’ guard Milaysia Fulwiley looked to post another win over the Lady Bulldogs and forward Joyce Edwards.

Instead, the nation’s second-ranked junior, according to ESPN, put forth a dominating performance. She scored 25 points and grabbed 22 rebounds to lead Camden.

Tateyoina Harris had 21 rebounds, Braylin Mungo finished with 13 points and Zyasia Carter added 11 points for the Lady Bulldogs. It was more than enough to neutralize Fulwiley, who was 7-29 from the field with 18 points, seven rebounds, seven steals and six assists. She had 41 points and 17 rebounds in the 60-58 state title game victory.

Dec. 28 Schedule
(At River Bluff Auxiliary Gym)
Carolina's Challenge
Hartsville vs. Charlotte Christian (N.C.) 12:30 p.m.
Richland Northeast vs. Concord Academy (N.C.) 2:10 p.m.
Cardinal Newman vs. Seaforth (N.C.) 3:50 p.m.
Augusta Christian (Ga.) vs. Charlotte Country Day (N.C.) 5:30 p.m.

(All Games at River Bluff Main Gym)
American Division
Greensboro Day (N.C.) vs. John Marshall (Va.) 11:10 a.m.
Columbus (Fla.) vs. Lexington 7:30 p.m.

National Division
Hillcrest Prep (Ariz.) vs. The Rock School (Fla.) 12:50 p.m.
Calvary Christian Academy (Fla.) vs. Southern California Academy (Calif.) 2:30 p.m.
Huntington Prep (WVa.) vs. Oak Hill Academy 4:10 p.m.
IMG Academy (Fla.) vs. Providence Day (N.C.) 5:50 p.m.

Girls Basketball
Hammond 50, Irmo 41

Thomas Grant Jr. | Chronicle
River Bluff guard Yaris Cromer
Thomas Grant Jr. | Chronicle
River Bluff boys basketball coach Benjamin Lee

River Bluff, Benjamin Lee, Wheeler, basketball, Cromer


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