Keenan carries a 29-game conference winning streak into Friday’s Region 3-2A opener at home against North Central.
The Raiders have been a dominant force in region play since dropping down to Class 2A in the 2004-05 season. Zach Norris’ teams have won or share the top region prize eight times in nine tries since the shift in classification and gone 81-5 in conference games.
Senior Marcus Stroman, who is the only Midlands player up for consideration to play in the McDonald’s All-American Games in Chicago, has opted to continue his career at the University of South Carolina, is averaging 15.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, 6.7 assists and 2.8 steals per game.
The future Gamecock has received solid support from freshman Tariq Simmons (12.3 ppg), senior Sam Harmon (9.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg) and junior Antwan Holmes (8.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg).
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The Raiders went 10-0 on the way to another region championship, and have not lost in conference play since dropping a 68-53 decision to Eau Claire in the first game of the 2010-11 campaign.
Keenan’s girls went 10-0, as well, last season and eventually secured their second state championship since 2008 under coach Reggie McLain. The Raiders, however, are rebuilding after the graduation loss to all-state star Keira Robinson.
The new leaders include junior Demyra Rudder and sophomore Bria Jackson.
The best matches of the first round will be in Winnsboro where Fairfield Central hosts Columbia. The hosts Griffin boys (8-5) square off against 7-5 Columbia. Both teams in the girls opener stand at 7-5.
Junior Terry House leads the Columbia points with a 14.7 scoring average, while senior Alexis Foulks (12.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 2.9 spg) sets the tone for the Capital girls team.
Fairfield Central’s player to watch is senior Jada Martin, who is averaging 14.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 5.0 steals per game. Martin is one of five Midlands girls who is up for consideration to play in the annual McDonald’s hoops fest in the Windy City in April.
Pelion travels to Eau Claire in the other twinbill on Friday.