Boys: Top 5 Seniors
Josh Corry, Gaffney
RJ Slawson, Fort Dorchester
Bruce Ellington, Berkley
Devantae Wright, Goose Creek
Mike Green, Ridge View
Girls: Top 5 Seniors
Sarah Green, Irmo
Kelia Shelton, Northwestern
Tiffanie Adair, Byrnes
Lanie Whitaker, Boiling Springs
Kiasiah Ham, Hartsville
BOYS AT A GLANCE
The Favorite: Goose Creek
After narrowly missing making history in 2006, Goose Creek brought home the school's first state championship last March.
Now the Gators strive to bring a second trophy home.
Carrying a 15-game winning streak, Goose Creek begins the season ranked No. 1.The Gators went 27-2 last season, beating Gaffney 63-58 in the state final and won their five playoff games by an average of 15 points.
Gone is all-state guard Phillip Jenkins, who scored 33 points in the championship game. But coach Brad Dobbels and the Gators have plenty of talent back.
DeVontae Wright, a 6-foot senior point guard, was named one of the top five seniors in Class 4A by the S.C. Basketball Coaches Association. Wing Louis Williams, a 6-3 senior, is also back giving the Gators an experienced, playoff-tested backcourt.
Five other contenders
GAFFNEY: The Indians won Region 3-4A last season. With reigning Class 4A player of the year Josh Corry returning, Gaffney looks like the Upper State's best team again.
DORMAN: The Cavaliers muscled their way to the Region 2-4A championship last winter before a stunning first-round playoff loss to Clover. Seniors T.J. Jones (6-3) and Derrick Scott (6-7) give Dorman plenty of hope again.
FORT DORCHESTER: USC-bound R.J. Slawson gives the Patriots a good start in catching up with Goose Creek, which beat. Fort Dorchester 45-37 in the Lower State final last February.
LEXINGTON: The defending Region 5-4A champion Wildcats have a solid group of seniors. At 6-8, Matt Jergenson gives Lexington a strong post presence. Sophomore guard Shaq Roland's health after a football shoulder injury is a question mark.
HILLCREST: Savad Garner, a 6-2 guard, and Dondray Walker, a 6-4 wing, make the Rams a contender in Region 2-4A.
GIRLS AT A GLANCE
The Favorite: Spring Valley
Spring Valley, the defending champions, are the favorite to win another title - and listed as one of 20 teams to watch nationally by The Sporting News.
The Vikings return five starters from last year's team, which finished 27-1 and averaged 54.3 points per game as freshmen and sophomores.
Sophomore Xylina McDaniel returns as a 6-foot-1 post player with a new-and-improved jump shot to match or better her 13.3 points and 7.9 rebounds per game averages. Jocelyn Lawrence, a 6-3 junior, is expected to be an impact player in the paint and 6-foot forward Savonia Bryan is on the wing.
With Asia Dozier (18.3 points, 3.3 steals, 3.6 assists) at shooting guard and Briana Robinson and Shaquita Walker running point, the Vikings' nucleus is solid.
Five Other Contenders
IRMO: Led by All-State center Sarah Green, Brooke McCants and Brianna Stanton, Irmo expect to play tougher in the paint this year with some big new additions.
GOOSE CREEK: Goose Creek lost guard Denischa Bennamon (13.2 ppg), but returns a solid group led by power forward Aleighsa Welch (18.3 ppg).
NORTHWESTERN: Clemson commitment Kelia Shelton, a point guard, is great at getting dribble penetration and distributing the ball and with a solid crew built around her, the Trojans could make a run.
HARTSVILLE: Another team that made an early exit last year, the Red Red Foxes are led by guard Kiasiah Ham, one of the SCBCA's top 5 seniors.
DORMAN: The Cavaliers have six seniors, but whether any of them can fill the shoes of departed guard Fanchon Sartor and post Ashlen Dewart will determine if the Cavaliers make a run at the championship.
- Akilah Imani Nelson