Cardinal Newman gets past Blythewood

BLYTHEWOOD – Blythewood’s two-point loss to Dorman in the 5A state championship game last season is far, far in the past.

For Zeke Washington as well as the Bengals, that’s a good thing.

Even though the Bengals fell to Cardinal Newman 38-35 in the Blythewood Jamboree Nov. 21, Washington said his team knows it has some big shoes to fill.

Jonathan Breeland Jr. (2) fights through the Cardinal Newman contact. | Ross Burton

“We had some good players last year, they’re all playing in colleges somewhere,” Washington said. “It makes a difference when you don’t have them, and inexperience showed today. But we can’t feel sorry for ourselves and say ‘last year’ the entire year. We’ve got to get better at doing what we do.”

Travis Thompson, a junior who spent a lot of time on the bench last year while watching Robert Braswell, Kameron Riley, Tre’ Jackson, Khalil Shakir-Harris and others run the floor as starters, bided his time.
“I’ve tried to work harder all summer, tried to know the plays better, and know what Coach Washington’s coaching.”

Blythewood began gauging itself for the 2017-2018 season at a Nov. 18 scrimmage, then played Cardinal Newman for two 8-minute periods Nov. 21. Both events, sponsored by the Bethel-Hanberry Athletic Alumni Association and staged at the Blythewood Gymnasium, showed the Bengals have a long way to go.

Blythewood took the hardwood against Cardinal Newman in the final game of the jamboree. The Bengals outpaced the Cardinals in the first period, jumping out to a 6-0 lead and holding them off.

Cardinal Newman eventually matched the Bengals pace and got them playing in a half-court. From there, the Cardinals whittled away.

They drained five 3-pointers in the second period to walk off with a 38-35 win.

“We have to a better job of some things,” Washington said. “We’ve lost a little focus there, and the inexperience showed, especially in the half court. We’ve got to do a better job.”

Returning starter Jonathan Breland led the way for the Bengals with 11 points. Thompson had 8 and had five rebounds in solid play under the net.

Earlier in the evening, Heathwood Hall faced Lugoff-Elgin, Dreher took on Eau Claire, and Keenan played Aiken,

Blythewood, which finished 22-6 last year after falling just short of the state title, lost most of its starters. The younger Bengals know that they’ve got their work cut out for them.

“It leaves a chip on our shoulder,” Thompson said. “Right now we’re on top of the rankings, but we’re going to come at other teams as hard as possible. A lot of us didn’t play last year because the starters were so good. But we’re gonna try to play better every game, and get some experience.”

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