The much-anticipated Region 4-3A basketball season begins on Friday with three varsity doubleheaders.
The headline twin bill is Lower Richland’s visit to Dreher. Elsewhere, Chapin is at Westwood and A.C. Flora travels to Camden.
At Dreher, the Lower Richland girls (10-0) put their unblemished record on the line against the defending state champion Blue Devils (11-3). Dreher beat the Diamond Hornets four times last season on the way to a 25-1 record and the 3A title, including a triumph in the Upper State championship game in Greenville.
LR has not played since Dec. 18. The Diamond Hornets displayed incredible depth in the first month of the season with junior center Breshay Johnson (10.4 ppg, 5.8 rpg) leading the way. Junior Christian Brown (8.7 ppg), senior Dayonshe’ Mitchell (6.7 ppg), senior Jasmine Richardson (5.9 ppg), freshman Dejah Williford (5.5 ppg) and eighth-grader Kameron Roach (5.2 ppg) all offer solid support. But defense remains Lower Richland’s calling card. So far, the Hornets are averaging 17.1 steals per game and allowing 35.9 points per outing.
Dreher (11-3) got off to an 8-0 start before taking part in two of the top three girls basketball tournaments in the country – the CresCom Bank event in Myrtle Beach and the Naples Holiday Invitational in Florida. The result was a 3-3 combined showing at the prestigious holiday hoops gatherings.
The Blue Devils 31-game winning streak came to an end in Myrtle Beach, but Teresa Jones’ team is still riding a 29-game roll against South Carolina opposition.
Junior Kaydra Duckett is off to a great start, averaging 15.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3.7 steals and 2.7 assists. Jhileiya Dunlap (11.9 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 4.6 bpg), senior Jazmine Robinson (8.3 ppg, 3.2 spg, 2.9 apg), junior Mikayla Johnson (5.8 ppg, 4.4 rpg) and sophomore Jordan Starr (6.7 ppg) provide solid backing to Duckett. Starr had a career-high 23 points, including a 9-for-9 effort at the free-throw line, in Dreher’s most recent game.
In the nightcap, the 12-0 Dreher boys, led by sophomore Tevin Mack (22.8 ppg) and John Myers (10.9 ppg) will get its first major test of the season against a Lower Richland team that is still feeling its way under new coach Willie Thomas. The Diamond Hornets went 4-6 in December with center Vincent Hicklin leading the way.
At Westwood, junior Shaleighya Sulton leads Chapin (8-5) against the host Redhawks (4-7). Sulton 17.2 points, 8.8 rebounds, 4.6 steals and 2.5 assists with a high game of 28 points in the Eagles season opener against Irmo. First-year Westwood closed its inaugural month of hoops on a high note with a 2-1 showing at the Home Pest Control tournament at Heathwood Hall. Sophomores Kaylah Cohen (11.0 ppg), Kayla Atkins (9.5 ppg, 12.6 rpg) and Stacia Gayton (9.2 ppg, 8.0 rpg) have emerged as Westwood’s top producers.
Chapin’s boys bring a 8-6 record to the table, and fresh from a tournament championship at its own Claw Classic last week. Tanner Springston scored 20 points and Tony Dargan added 18 in the Eagles’ 67-48 win over Eau Claire in the Claw Classic title bout. Westwood (4-7) also went 2-1 and reached the finals of the Heathwood Hall tournament. The Redhawks are still sorting things out, but insiders Adonus Lee and Austin Madison are making some noise.
A.C. Flora’s boys (8-5) closed December with 2-1 showings at the Chick-fil-A Classic and the Capital City Classic. Matthew Howard and Rion Davis are the Falcon headliners. Senior Josh Council and junior center Delton Bradford pace Camden (6-3). The Flora girls (8-6) rely on senior Kyeshia Dawkins (13.8 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 3.5 apg, 2.7 spg) and sophomore Haniyyah Howard (10.2 ppg, 5.4 rpg). Sharneece Gary is Camden’s top player.