Three Midlands are ranked No. 1 as the South Carolina Basketball Coaches Association released its preseason polls Wednesday.
Defending state champion A.C. Flora boys and Dreher girls are No. 1 moving up to Class 4A after winning 3A championships last season. Gray Collegiate boys are No. 1 in Class 2A.
“It’s an honor to No. 1 but it’s something that we can’t really control on how other teams look at you,” A.C. Flora coach Joshua Staley said. “But you can control how you practice every day, your approach in the classroom so we focus on things we control.”
Staley said his team, which returns several players from last year’s team, has the potential to be a really strong defensive team and it’s a very selfless team.
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While Flora is used to be near the top of the rankings each year, it’s the first preseason ranking for Gray Collegiate, which is allowed to compete in the postseason for the first time this year.
“We just got to continue and work hard and earn that spot. No one is going to hand us anything,” GCA coach Dion Bethea said. “The approach we take is ‘Me against the world.’ People are going to be gunning for us but with the hard work and training we do we got to make sure we step up, fight back and be in position to win games.”
All three top-ranked teams had players named to the SCBCA Elite Boys and Top Five Seniors in each classification. GCA’s Jalek Felton and Juwan Gary and A.C. Flora’s Christian Brown were named to the Elite Boys list while ACF’s James Reese and Deshawn Thomas are on top five senior boys in Class 4A.
Dreher’s Jaelynn Murray was named to Elite Girls, and Kamryn Lemon is top five senior in 4A. Lemon was on crutches at the luncheon after injuring her knee Tuesday night in a scrimmage and was supposed to get it checked out Wednesday.
Dutch Fork’s Jordan Davis, a Dayton signee, and Lower Richland’s Clyde Trapp, a Clemson signee, also were named to Elite Boys list as Midlands players made up five of the eight players on the list.
Dutch Fork is the highest ranked Midlands team in Class 5A at No. 2 with Blythewood right behind at No. 3. Blythewood’s Keith Matthews is on top five seniors in Class 5A.
In Class 4A behind A.C. Flora are Lower Richland (No. 4) and Ridge View (No. 7). LR’s Ja’Cor Nelson and Ridge View’s Kaiden Rice are top five seniors in 4A.
In 3-A, Brookland-Cayce is No. 3, and Bearcats’ Lloyd Hemming is top five senior in the classification. Newberry is No. 4, and Fairfield Central is ninth.
In 2A, upper-state runner-up Keenan is No. 3 and Tariq Simmons is top five senior.
On the girls’ side, defending state champion Spring Valley is No. 3 in Class 5A.
In 4A, Ridge View is No. 2 behind Dreher, and UNC Asheville signee Armanii Grice joins Murray and Lower Richland’s Kam Roach on the Elite Girls list. Westwood is No. 8 in 4A.
In Class 3A, three Midlands teams are ranked – Newberry (No. 4), Swansea (No. 6) and Fairfield Central (No. 9). Newberry’s Nigeria Davis is a top five senior.
In Class 2A, defending upper state champion Keenan is ranked No. 2.
South Carolina Basketball Coaches Association polls and top players
Elite Boys: Christian Brown (A.C. Flora), Jordan Davis (Dutch Fork), Jalek Felton (Gray Collegiate), Juwan Gary (Gray Collegiate), Ja’ Morant (Crestwood), Duane Moss (Carolina Forest), Clyde Trapp (Lower Richland), Sharone Wright (West Florence).
Class 5A: 1. Dorman; 2. Dutch Fork; 3. Blythewood; 4. Sumter; 5. West Florence; 6. Irmo; 7. James Island; 8. Byrnes; 9. West Ashley; 10. (tie) Wade Hampton and Westside.
Top 5 Senior Boys: Hayden Brown (Byrnes), Zach Butler (Dorman), Jalen Cameron (West Florence), Vince Cole (James Island), Keith Matthews (Blythewood).
Class 4A: 1. A.C. Flora; 2. Wilson; 3. Crestwood; 4. Lower Richland; 5. Lakewood; 6. Wren; 7. Ridge View; 8. Beaufort; 9. Eastside; 10. North Augusta
Top 5 Senior Boys: Jamal Bryant (Wilson); Ja’Cor Nelson (Lower Richland); James Reese (A.C. Flora), Kaiden Rice (Ridge View); Deshawn Thomas (A.C. Flora).
Class 3A: 1. Timberland; 2. Berea; 3. Brookland-Cayce; 4. Newberry; 5. Ridgeland-Hardeeville; 6. Bishop England; 7. Seneca; 8. Southside; 9. Fairfield Central; 10. Bluffton.
Top 5 Senior Boys: Lloyd Hemming (Brookland-Cayce), Jalen Carter (Clinton), Brendan McHale (Bishop England), D.J. Johnson (Timberland), Tyreese Sandren (Bluffton).
Class 2A: 1. Gray Collegiate; 2. Calhoun County; 3. Keenan; 4. Andrew Jackson; 5. Marion; 6. Burke; 7. Landrum; 8. Abbeville; 9. Lee Central; 10. Blacksburg.
Top 5 Senior Boys: Kendrick Holloman (Lee Central), Tariq Simmons (Keenan), Micah Banks (St. Joseph’s), Sidney Robinson (Burke), Jordan Rodgers (Blacksburg).
Class A: 1. Hemingway; 2. Lewisville; 3. C.E. Murray; 4. Timmonsville; 5. Hunter-Kinard-Tyler; 6. Williston-Elko; 7. Bethune Bowman; 8. North; 9. Lamar; 10. Wagener-Salley
Top 5 Senior Boys: Desmond Pressley (Hemingway), Mike Hill (Lewisville), Aaron Rivers (Timmonsville), Malik Morris (Hemingway), Solomon Skinner (Hemingway)
Elite Girls: Armanii Grice (Ridge View), Mariah Linney (Goose Creek), Quadijah Moore (Emerald), Jaelynn Murray (Dreher), Kam Roach (Lower Richland), Diamon Shiflet (Greer), Madisend Smith (Greenville), Amari Young (North Augusta)
Class 5A: 1. Goose Creek; 2. Rock Hill; 3. Spring Valley; 4. Mauldin; 5. Dorman; 6. T.L. Hanna; 7. Conway; 8. Fort Mill; 9. Woodmont; 10. Wando
Top 5 Senior Girls: Maggee Bolt (T.L. Hanna), Erica Broughton (Goose Creek), Claire McTighe (Wando), Deja Pilgrim (Boiling Springs), Mikaylah Walker (Gaffney).
Class 4A: 1. Dreher; 2. Ridge View; 3. Myrtle Beach; 4. North Augusta; 5. Wilson; 6. Greenville; 7. Greer; 8. Westwood; 9. Crestwood; 10. Berkeley
Top 5 Senior Girls: Kamryn Lemon (Dreher), Nia Sumpter (Myrtle Beach), Aquera Johnson (North Myrtle Beach), Shanteal Davis (Belton-Honea Path), Shamiyah Barnes (Wilson).
Class 3A: 1. Bishop England; 2. Pendleton; 3. Dillon; 4. Newberry; 5. Emerald; 6. Swansea; 7. Ridgeland-Hardeeville; 8. Indian Land; 9. Fairfield Central; 10. Woodruff
Top 5 Senior Girls: Rhetta Moore (Bishop England), Sakorea Black (Berea), Nigeria Davis (Newberry), Khamele Manning (Dillon), Nia Pressley (Indian Land)
Class 2A: 1. Mullins; 2. Keenan; 3. Lee Central; 4. Burke; 5. Christ Church; 6. Saluda; 7. Southside; 8. Whale Branch; 9. Ninety Six; 10. Carvers Bay
Top 5 Senior Girls: Brittani McDonald (Mullins), Alexis McMillian (Lee Central), Karimah Jenkins (Burke), Mary Ashley Moore (Ninety Six), Alexxus Sowell (Andrew Jackson).
Class A: 1. Timmonsville; 2. McCormick; 3. Cross; 4. Ridge-Spring Monetta; 5. Green Sea-Floyds; 6. Lamar; 7. Estill; 8. Hemingway; 9. Denmark-Olar; 10. Baptist Hill
Top 5 Senior Girls: Jayla Ravenell (Cross), Shania Wright (Timmonsville), Toniyah Wideman (McCormick), Mikayla Davis (Ridge-Spring Monetta), Roche Brown (Estill)