The SCISA Region 1-3A basketball season begins on Tuesday with two varsity doubleheaders – Heathwood Hall at Ben Lippen and Augusta Christian at Cardinal Newman.
Hammond has a non-region twinbill at Laurence Manning.
Ben Lippen’s boys team brings a 12-0 record into the region opener. The Falcons are the only unbeaten varsity team – boys or girls - left in the Midlands. Juniors Wright Bynum (10.2 ppg, 6.5 rpg), Braden Cox (9.7 ppg) and Aaron McGuire (8.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 2.0 spg) and freshman Mark Shoemaker (7.6 ppg, 4.3 apg, 2.0 spg) have the most consistent performers to date.
Heathwood Hall (8-4) is another team that boasts balanced production. Seniors Ryan Ellis (10.6 ppg, 2.3 apg), Trenton Flemming (8.6 ppg, 2.3 apg), junior Alex Curtin (7.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg), sophomore Nygel Vaughn (9.4 ppg, 3.6 apg, 1.9 spg) and freshman Josh Caldwell (6.6 ppg, 2.0 spg) have helped carry the load for the Highlanders.
Heathwood Hall’s girls, featuring All-America candidate A’ja Wilson, is heavily favored to win yet another region championship. Winning the SCISA state championship, however, is the one and only goal for the senior-dominated Highlanders. Wilson is averaging 36.9 points, 16.1 rebounds, 4.8 blocks, 3.6 steals and 1.6 assists a game. Senior teammates Victoria Dickerson (12.3 ppg), Gadson Lefft (8.5 ppg, 7.3 rpg), Erin Ress (6.3 ppg, 1.9 apg, 1.8 spg) and Chelsea Joseph (5.9 ppg, 6.7 rpg) hold the key to achieving the ultimate prize.
Ben Lippen (5-7), coached by former Heathwood Hall star Kristen Dickerson, is clearly overmatched in the opener.
Defending state champion Cardinal Newman is on a roll after getting off to somewhat of a slow start against tough competition in December. The Cardinals have won four in a row, seven of their last eight to set their record at 10-6 entering conference play.
Austin Ajukwa if off to Clemson, but CN has started to gel behind veterans Joey Armstrong (9.2 ppg, 6.1 rpg), John Ragin (7.9 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 2.8 apg, 2.3 spg) and Zakki Parker (4.4 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 3.0 apg) and newcomer Charles Smith (18.6 ppg, 6.4 rpg).
Smith is a transfer from Keenan, where he was a varsity regular for two seasons.
The CN girls stand at 5-4 in their first season under former Ben Lippen coach Cindy Cummings.