Preview: Irmo basketball

11/26/2013 12:05 PM

11/26/2013 12:07 PM

The Irmo Yellow Jackets enter the 2013-14 season with a proud basketball tradition.

During the 32-year tenure of Coach Tim Whipple, Irmo has won 624 games, averaging nearly 20 wins a season. Under Whipple, the Jackets have won five state championships, made it to the finals eight times and missed the playoff cut only three times.

Irmo enters the season as the reigning Class 4A champion and fresh from the first undefeated season (29-0) in school history.

Six varsity players return for the Yellow Jackets, but only three with significant playing experience. Seniors Javis Howard and Jevante Gross are returning starters, and senior Xavier Hill is back after being a top man off the bench a year ago.

Other players expected to contribute include seniors Khalil Small, Will Jamison and Heyward Goodson and freshman Devontae Shuler.

The overall team lack of playing experience and depth is going to be a major obstacle to overcome. If the Yellow Jackets are to be competitive, team chemistry must develop quickly. Moreover, finding a reliable player take over at point guard and establishing a 3-point shooting presence are top priorities.

Irmo will rely on a strong defense, using full and half court pressure, to hopefully create some easy scoring opportunities. As always, Irmo offensively will attempt to use the individual strengths of each player, within a team concept, to provide high percentage scoring opportunities.

Monica Williams’ girls team is looking to break out after going a tepid 38-37 over the past three seasons – 12-13, 13-12, 13-12.

It could happen with the three-year starters Ke’Asia Jackson and Olivia Jabber leading the way. Last season Jackson averaged 14.9 points, 1.4 assists and 2.6 steals, while insider Jabber averaged 7.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.6 steals.

Senior Taziya Moody is a promising newcomer. Sophomore Shakira Carter, a 6-foot center, is back after averaging 4.0 points and 3.5 boards last season. Sophomore guard Timara Council returns but in a bigger role.

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