Eighth-ranked J.L. Mann’s season came to an end Friday with a 67-44 loss on the road against sixth-ranked Northwestern in the second round of the Class AAAA girls basketball playoffs.
Mann finished the season with a record of 21-7. Patriots coach Darah Huffman said she was proud of her team, which tied Greenwood for the best record in Region 1 — the teams split their region meetings — but finished as runner-up after losing in a tie-breaker game.
As for the loss to Northwestern, Huffman said, “We didn’t play smart basketball. We played hurry-up basketball. They have some good players, but our kids didn’t execute our offense. We had 15 fouls and 14 points in the first half. They stuck to their game plan, and we didn’t stick to ours.”
Mann trailed 15-6 after one quarter and 27-14 by halftime.
Shayla Bennett led the Patriots with 18 points, and Alyson Brown added 13 points.
Mann played once again without all-state guard Angel McGowan, a senior who signed with Georgia Southern University but was out with a knee injury.
“I won’t say we win or lose because of one player,” Huffman said. “This is a team sport. You miss a player like Angel, but you don’t win or lose because of one player.”
Bennett missed games earlier in the season because of an injury and an appendectomy. Huffman said injuries plagued Mann all season.
“I was proud of them,” Huffman said. “We fought the injury bug all season. All you can do is ask the kids to play hard, and they did that.”
In the first round, Mann beat Spartanburg 57-54 in a game that went down to the final buzzer. Bennett hit some critical free throws and 3-point shots late in the fourth quarter to seal the win.