The Man High School boys’ basketball team will have one of the strangest schedules in the state this season.
Man’s revised 17-game schedule begins with eight straight home games starting off with the season opener on March 5 against Buffalo at the Man Memorial Fieldhouse.
The Billies then close out by playing seven out of their last nine contests on the road. The only home contests during that span are an added home game to the schedule on April 3 against Independence and the April 16 regular season finale at home vs. River View.
After opening with the Bison, Man hosts Calhoun County on March 6, Tolsia on March 9, Mingo Central on March 16, Logan on March 19, Sherman on March 20, Tug Valley on March 24 and Van on March 26.
The Billies received a lot of off-season attention last summer and into the fall before the season was delayed once, then twice by COVID-19 concerns.
After logging an impressive 18-6 record last year as a Double-A school and returning everyone from that team, Man is expected to be a state championship contender this season as a Single-A school.
Man has several players coming back this season, including Caleb Blevins, Coach TJ Blevins’ son, Austin Ball, Ryan Cozart, Peyton Adams, Jeremiah Harless and others.
Caleb Blevins broke Man’s all-time 3-point shooting record for most 3s in a game last season with 10.
Man was led last season by Ball, a 6-5 juinor, who averaged 19.2 points and 9.5 points per game during his sophomore season. He closed out the year with 12 double-double performances. Ball also had a team-best 49 blocked shots.
Caleb Blevins, a 6-3 junior, averaged 13.3 points a game and was Man’s top 3-point shooter, sinking 53 from beyond the arc.
Adams, a 5-8 senior guard, checked in at 9.6 points per contest last season. He dished out a team-high 100 assists and made 38 shots from 3-point land.
Jackson Tackett, a 6-2 junior, averaged 8.7 points per contest last year for Man. He had 207 rebounds, second on the team to Ball, and had six double-doubles.
Cozart, a 6-3 senior, averaged 6.1 points a game last season, making 15 3s.
Harless, a 6-3 senior, averaged five points a game last season for Man.
Christian Toler, a 5-10 junior, checked in at 4.7 points per contest last year.
Rounding out Man’s roster last season were: Brady Hall-Montgomery; Hunter Anderson; Jordan Adams, Jacob Walls, James Scites, Andrew Cozart and Ethan Spence.
Joining the Billies this season are transfers Israel Canterbury (Belfry, Ky.) and Colton Blankenship (Mingo Central).
Man was a versatile team last season and was one not afraid to launch shots from 3-point territory.
As a team this season, Man sank 151 of 536 3-pointers for 28 percent. Man was 593 of 1,388 in total team shooting for 42.7 percent. From the free throw line, the Billies netted 257 of 382 of their charity tosses for 67.3 percent.
With the additions of Canterbury and Blankenship Man’s already deep team just got deeper.
“We are going to be deep down the bench,” Coach Blevins said. “It’s a double-edged sword I guess. I believe going forward with this we can work it out. There’s always a chance that it might not work but I’d rather have kids that I can go and look down the line and say, ‘hey, let’s go.’ And hopefully, they will be ready to go.”
Home-and-away series with new Class A sectional foe Tug Valley and Class AAA county rival Logan highlight Man’s schedule.
Other highlights are home-and-away series against Class AA Mingo Central and a single game vs. 2A Wyoming East.
The WVSSAC moves to a new four-class format this season, the first time that’s ever been done. The pilot system will last two years through the 2021-22 season.
Man’s new Class A sectional should be an interesting one as the Billies are set to participate in a new Single-A section with traditional basketball powers Tug Valley and Tolsia. Sherman and Van, two Class A schools in Boone County, round out the field.
Practices were set to begin on Monday for Man and all of the high school boys’ and girls’ teams from across the state.
2021 Man High School
Boys’ Basketball Schedule:
March 5: Buffalo, 7:30 p.m.
March 6: Calhoun County, 5 p.m.
March 9: Tolsia, 7:30 p.m.
March 16: Mingo Central, 7:30 p.m.
March 19: Logan, 7:30 p.m.
March 20: Sherman, 4 p.m.
March 24: Tug Valley, 7:30 p.m.
March 26: Van, 7:30 p.m.
March 27: at Sherman, 4 p.m.
March 29: at Logan, 7:30 p.m.
April 2: at Mingo Central, 7:30 p.m.
April 3: Independence, 7:30 p.m.
April 5: at Calhoun County, 7:30 p.m.
April 10: at Van, 7:30 p.m.
April 12: at Tug Valley, 7:30 p.m.
April 14: at Wyoming East, 7:30 p.m.
April 16: River View, 7:30 p.m.