As if taking over a program that had just won its first state championship in nearly three decades was not pressure enough, A.C. Flora coach Joshua Staley is piloting a team that has been voted the state’s No. 1 Class 3A team by the S.C. Basketball Coaches Association.
“It’s very exciting and, hopefully, we’ll be ready to go the first game of the season,” Staley said.
The Falcons were among nine local teams to crack the preseason top 10 polls, including the Keenan Raiders, No. 1 in Class 2A, Dreher at No. 2 in Class 3A, and Spring Valley at No. 2 in Class 4A.
“It’s healthy for the game. It should bring the best out of everyone. It’s good for the kids, the communities and the schools. We’re looking forward to getting after it,” Staley said.
Spring Valley coach Perry Dozier said, “It’s great expectations. Being a front runner, or even close to the front runner, the target is on your back, so everybody’s looking to beat us, and we’re going to be looking to beat everybody else, too.”
Irmo starts the season ranked No. 6, and White Knoll is ranked 10th in 4A.
“It shows that we have potential, and, of course, potential just means that you haven’t done anything yet,” Timberwolves’ first-year coach Jason Cochcroft said. “If we all can get to where we’re pulling on the same end of the rope, it can be a great season.”
The Timberwolves are led by guard/forward Emarius Logan, one of the top five 4A seniors.
At Flora, key returners such as Karl Gamble and James Murray-Boyles, voted among the top five players in the class, and Rion Davis will be a big part of the Falcons’ push to defend their top spot.
Dreher’s Tevin Mack also was chosen as top five senior in 3A and one of the state’s overall elite players, along with Spring Valley’s PJ Dozier and Jordan Bruner.
“To be ranked, and then to have two of our kids, that means we’re supposed to be the best team out there, that’s what it looks like,” coach Dozier said. “So, everybody’s going to be expecting a lot of us, and we don’t have any days to take off. We’ve got to get better every day we practice.”
Defending Class A champion C.A. Johnson is ranked fifth, Columbia is No. 7 in Class 2A and Airport is seventh in 3A.