The most significant doubleheaders on the Friday varsity basketball slate in the Midlands are at Lower Richland and Airport. All four games have first-place implications in the respective region races.
The headliner, of course, is the girls confrontation between Lower Richland and Dreher.
The host Diamond Hornets stand at 15-1 overall, 5-0 in Region 4-3A and have won 14 games in a row. LR, ranked No. 2 in the most recent SCHSBA poll, has won 41 of its last 42 games, including last season’s 26-0 run to the 3A state championship.
Fourth-ranked Dreher (13-2, 5-0) has won six in a row since the start of January, and can’t wait to test themselves against a team that swept them in region play and replaced them on the 3A throne. The Blue Devils defeated the Diamond Hornets four times on the way to the 2012 state title.
Senior veteran Breshay Johnson (14.9 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 3.7 spg), sophomores Dejah Williford (10.5 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 2.1 apg) and Alaysia Washington (5.7 ppg, 5.8 rpg) and freshmen Kameron Roach (5.5 ppg, 2.0 apg, 2.3 spg) and Cailah Hicklin (6.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg) are the top LR contributors.
Dreher counters with seniors Kayla Duckett (15.2 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 3.4 apg, 4.4 spg) and Makayla Johnson (6.4 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 3.2 bpg), sophomore Jhileiya Dunlap (16.0 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 3.1 spg, 2.9 bpg) and freshman Jalen Murray (9.4 ppg, 6.8 rpg).
In the nightcap, the fifth-ranked Dreher boys (12-4, 5-0) look to close out the first half of the region campaign with a win and a two-game lead over the rest of the field. The Blue Devils, led by senior Tevin Mack, have won five in a row in the wake of a three-game losing streak.
Lower Richland (10-7, 3-2) has been an inconsistent bunch. The Diamond Hornets are coming off a 65-61 overtime loss to Camden at home. Junior Jared Richardson (16.2 ppg) and senior Brandon Stroman (12.2) are the top performers.
At Airport, first place is at stake in Region 5-3A in both games with Midland Valley.
In the boys game, the seventh-ranked Eagles (12-3, 3-0) face their biggest test of the season against No. 2 Midland Valley (16-2, 3-0).
Quan Bovain (12.3 ppg), Sammy Frazier (7.3 rpg), Josh Williamson (2.0 apg), Daniel Gillins (2.0 bpg) and C.J. Wright (2.0 spg) are the Airport statistical category leaders. Sophomore Daniel Carr (16.4 ppg, 3.9 apg, 3.9 spg), senior Taijha Turner (11.4 ppg, 5.6 rpg) and junior Kameron Brown (12.9 ppg, 5.2 rpg) are the top guns for the Mustangs.
The defending region champion Airport girls (11-4, 3-0) have yet to be challenged in early conference play, but the Eagles must guard against an upset bid by the second-place Mustangs. If Airport wins, it will have no worse than a two game lead in the standings against the rest of the field.