Freed from the zone, Blythewood runs wild on J.L. Mann

BLYTHEWOOD – Zeke Washington’s game plan for the Blythewood boys basketball team wasn’t working out.

The Bengals head coach figured a zone defense would best counter J.L. Mann’s scoring capability in their first-round game at The Jungle.

The Patriots paid it no mind, and took an 18-15 lead into the second quarter.

So, Washington gathered the team together, gave them man-to-man assignments, and off the Bengals ran to a 95-48 victory in the first round of the 5A playoffs.

“We prepared us to zone for most of the game, but it just didn’t work,” Washington said. “I didn’t think we would do that well in man, but we switched to man, so I’m just like, whatever works. You just can’t be stubborn.”

From then on, it was man-to-man all the way, and Blythewood ran J.L. Mann up and down the floor at ease. The Bengals blasted the Patriots 27-11 in the second quarter, held a 42-29 lead at the half, then outscored Mann 30-9 in the third to go up 72-38 for the final period. Most of the bench players took the floor in the fourth and outscored the Patriots 23-10 to close out the rout.

Four Bengals reached double figures. Will Olden led all scorers with 25 points and Tyler Stephens had 12 points. T.J. Lewis scored 11 and Austin Coker chipped in 10 points for Blythewood (21-6).

Dontez Walker had 17 points for J.L. Mann (10-16).

Blythewood’s win sets the stage for a huge matchup Saturday at 6 p.m. at the Jungle. The Bengals take on defending 5A state champion Dorman (20-7). The Cavaliers beat White Knoll 53-38 Wednesday.

Blythewood faced Dorman for the 5A state championship in 2017, falling 54-53 to the Cavaliers in that game. This year’s Dorman team may not have as many top 100 players, Washington said, but the Cavaliers, who finished second to Byrnes in Region 2, still pack a big punch.

“They don’t have the kids that they’ve had in the past, but they’ve still got an all-state player in Christian Andrews,” Washington said about Dorman, which has won five state titles since 2017. “They are still very solid, very well-coached.”

J.L. Mann – 18-11-9-10 —  48

Blythewood – 15-27-30-23 — 95

J.L. Mann

Dontez Walker 17, Williams 7, Davidson 6, Scales 6, Cook 5, Blueford 3, Peterson 2, Hack 2


Will Olden 25, Tyler Stephens 12, T.J. Lewis 11, Austin Coker 10, Chung 9, Mazyck 6, Mason 5,

Wyche 5, Jones 5, Sims 3, Little 2 

Contact us: (803) 767-5711 | P.O. Box 675, Blythewood, SC 29016 | [email protected]