A look at some of the top story lines for this weekend’s South Carolina High School League’s Upper and Lower State basketball championships:
Heavy Midlands representation
It’s been another strong year on the hardwood in the Midlands and that is shown by how many area teams remain in the postseason.
Eleven of the 40 teams playing in the Upper and Lower State championships are from the Midlands, three more than last year.
Gray-Keenan, Part IV
Another chapter will be added to the Gray Collegiate and Keenan boys’ rivalry Saturday when the teams meet in the Class 2A Upper State final for the second straight year.
The teams are meeting for the fourth time this year and seventh over the past two seasons. Gray Collegiate has won all three games this year and is 5-1 against the Raiders with the lone loss in last year’s Class 2A Upper State final.
Gray Collegiate and Keenan won’t be the only matchup by teams who have faced off this season.
Nine of the 20 matchups are rematches between region foes this season. Among those will be the third installment of Blythewood and Irmo in the Class 5A Lower State title game.
The Bengals won both games and have won four straight against the Yellow Jackets including last year’s Lower State title game.
Four schools have both their boys and girls teams making it the state semifinals, including Keenan.
The other three are Marion, Wilson and Wade Hampton (G). Keenan boys are in their fourth straight semifinals while the Keenan girls are playing for the second time in three years.
Wade Hampton (G) and Wilson boys and girls teams won’t have to travel far this weekend.
Wade Hampton’s campus is just 3.2 miles from the Bon Secours Wellness Arena, while Wilson is just 7.9 miles from the Florence Civic Center. It is the second straight year both Tiger teams have made it to the Lower State finals.
The Westwood girls’ team is in the state semifinals for the first time since the school opened in 2011-12.
The Redhawks had losing seasons in their first three years but won 19 or more games in each of the last three including a school-record 23 this year.
1 vs. 2
The Spring Valley and Goose Creek girls’ matchup in the Class 5A Lower State championship features the only teams ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the SC Basketball Coaches Polls.
The Vikings are No. 1 with the Gators No. 2. The two programs have combined for nine championship appearances over the past decade.
Been a while
The Swansea girls and Ridge View boys’ basketball teams are back in the semifinals.
Swansea hasn’t been this far in the playoffs since winning it all in 1995.
The Blazers are playing in an Upper State final for the first time since 2011.
Not missing a beat
A.C. Flora and Gray Collegiate boys have been without key contributors in the postseason but it hasn’t mattered.
The Falcons have been without Diamante Brown (league suspension), but have gotten big contributions from Daniel Harper Finney, Patrick Ariel and Dewey Green.
The War Eagles lost Khalil Robinson (thumb) in the first round, but junior Tommy Bruner stepped up against Lee Central with 32 points.
East Clarendon girls, which feature eighth grader Talaysia Cooper, are in the second Lower State championship game in school history.
Cooper has scored 50 points in a game this season and had 41 on Monday against Palmetto Scholars. The guard has started on varsity the past two years and is closing in on 1,000 points in her career.