Bengals Outpace Indians, Advance

Khalil Shakir-Harris (15) with the two-handed jam. (Photo/Kristy Kimball Massey)

Khalil Shakir-Harris (15) with the two-handed jam. (Photo/Kristy Kimball Massey)

BLYTHEWOOD (Feb. 22, 2016) – Coming off a slow-tempo 42-33 win over Dorman in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs Wednesday, Blythewood looked to speed things up on the court against Gaffney Saturday night.

The Indians obliged. With a speedy offense that matched the Bengals shot for shot in the first and second quarters, Gaffney seemed poised for an upset.

Blythewood did not oblige. After weathering a second quarter that saw nine lead changes in six minutes, the Bengals used a 20-6 scoring run over most of the third quarter en route to an 89-71 dismissal of the Indians.

“This was the total opposite of the last game, when we played a team that tried to slow it down,” Bengals head coach Zeke Washington said. “This team was just running up and down, and we do that, but we play better when we run.”

Blythewood (21-6) travels to Byrnes for the third round of playoffs Tuesday to play the Rebels, 80-50 winners over Nations Ford Saturday.

Dreele Jones led the Indians with 18 points. Kobe Rogers added 11 and Mystikal Tate put up 10.

Within their up-tempo game, the Bengals had to be inventive in order to secure a win against a very speedy Gaffney (10-12).

Early on, Blythewood paved the way inside for Khalil Shakir-Harris to score 10 of his 17 points on the night. Eli Lake, the leading scorer on the night, scored 16 of his game-high 19 points in the second half, including two 3-pointers and three transition baskets.

Keiwan Hammond put up 10 points to help the cause.

“Our kids stepped up to the plate and played well,” Washington said, when asked about the challenge that Gaffney posed early on. “They (the Indians) gave us some big blows. They’re good. They can shoot it, they can run, they can get up and down, but we played a lot of kids and we think that helped us.”

Blythewood got off to a 15-6 lead to start the game, but within seconds Gaffney made it 15-13 with a 3 from Rogers and baskets from Tate and Elmo Burris. Later at the first-quarter buzzer, Mushin Love’s 3 cut the Bengals lead to 17-16.

Five different Gaffney scorers ran and pestered the Blythewood attack in the second quarter, enabling the Indians to take a 30-29 lead with 2:29 left in the first half. That was the eighth lead change in less than six minutes, and the last time Gaffney was ahead.

Trae Churn knocked in a basket at the 2:03 mark, which sparked a short 9-3 run that gave the Bengals a 40-33 lead at the half.

Coming out of intermission, the team chose to stretch and have a sort of informal meeting on the court, rather than making warmup shots.

“We talked about turning up the intensity, and coming out stronger in the second half better than the first half,” Churn said.

Shakir-Harris added, “We basically wanted to attack the basket because they couldn’t jump with us. They weren’t as big as us, so we had to use our height and length to our advantage to close it out.”

Hammond’s basket that opened the third quarter was followed up with another Rogers 3 for Gaffney, but a Bengals’ 9-0 spurt gave them a cushion.

Lake came off the bench to start that run and immediately took a dish from Hammond for a score. Then the senior forward made good on a 3, which led to a Shakir-Harris steal and score. Lake scooped up a loose ball on his own and put it in to make it 51-36 with 5:20 to go in the third.

Tate made a putback, but the Bengals kept pouring it on. Lake got another basket, Jacob Bailey sank a 3, and Shakir-Harris added a bucket to give Blythewood a 20-point lead, 58-38, close to the 3-minute mark.

Blythewood finished the third with a 61-46 lead, and scored 28 points in the final quarter to close out a win and secure a trip to the third round.

“This is what we build ourselves to do. We may not be as fast as them, but we play so many people that we hope to offset that some,” Washington said.

Come Tuesday’s third-round appearance, the Bengals hope to go one game further than their third-round exit last year. Washington points to the first two playoff games to say he thinks Blythewood stands a good chance of doing that.

“It goes to the kids,” Washington said. “The kids are focused, they stay locked in, and they wanted to do whatever it takes to win. The seniors wanted to practice some more. That was what we were telling them, if we do well tonight then we get a chance to go on, and if not, we’re going to take up the locks to the lockers on Monday.”

Washington noted that the team’s midcourt meeting at halftime is a testament to the team’s not wanting to lose.

“These guys have been together for a long time,” he said. “They communicate well, and sometimes they can get each other motivated when I can’t. I understand that. We count on that. For some of them, they know me better than I know myself.”


Blythewood 89, Gaffney 71

GHS: 16-17-13-15 – 71

BHS: 17-23-21-28 – 89

G – Dreele Jones 18, Kobe Rogers 11, Mystikal Tate 10, Burris 7, Love 5, Foster 4, Morris 3, Choice 3. B – Eli Lake 19, Khalil Shakir-Harris 17, Keiwan Hammond 10, Churn 9, Johnson 7, Bowers 6, Matthews 4, Riley 4, Jackson 3, Bailey 3, Patten 3, Womack 2, Manuel 2. REC: Gaffney 10-12, Blythewood 21-6.


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