By CT McDonald
When Irmo’s boys varsity basketball team lost the state semifinal round in overtime at the Florence Civic Center last week, it brought down the curtain on another season in the Yellow Jacket tradition of learned, disciplined and practiced team competition.
At the beginning of the season this team was not necessarily assumed to be one of those that would be playing this deep into the playoffs — but they did, and why not?
The Yellow Jackets began with a preseason 2-1 run in the Impact tournament, then earned longtime veteran head coach Tim Whipple his 700th career coaching victory to start the regular season against Newberry, and then went on to win all but four games during the regular season and finish last week at 22-6 overall for the entire season.
One might expect to find himself dealing with a team like that deep in the playoffs.
Irmo — last year’s state runner-up and five-time state champion — completed the regular season in a tie with nearby Blythewood for the Region 5-5A title, and — not surprisingly — split wins with the Bengals during the conference schedule.
Then, last week’s Lower State Championship pitting the same two teams against each other went to overtime in a back-and-forth intense battle before the Bengals earned their first-ever appearance in the state finals with the 61-50 victory.
Looks like high school basketball at its best.
It’s probably safe to expect the Yellow Jackets to be back again next year to win their share of games, and more, even if they’re not supposed to.