Midlands reps Sumter and Ridge View occupy the top two spots in the first Class 4A boys basketball poll of the season that was released today, but all the attention at the South Carolina Basketball Coaches Association preseason banquet staged at the Frank Maguire Club Room in the Colonial Life Arena seemed to be on Zam Frederick’s Calhoun County Saints.
Frederick’s St. Matthew’s bunch, of course, needs no introduction. The Saints are coming off a 29-0 season and a hair-raising win over 67-66 over Hemingway in the 1A state championship game that extended their state record winning streak to 78 games. It was the Saints’ third straight small-school title. Calhoun County is 7-2 in state championship games since the dynasty began in 1996. The Saints are 4-2 in 2A finales, 3-0 in 1A.
Not surprisingly, Calhoun County showed up at No. 1 in the preseason small-school rankings. Senior Alshon Jeffrey is on the preseason 1A all-state team.
Neither Summerville nor Spartanburg, which engaged in perhaps the most controversial title bout in history last March, made the preseason Top 10 cut, leaving the way open for Sumter and Ridge View, at least in the view of the voters. Summerville eliminated Ridge View in the third round of the playoffs, then edge Sumter 51-47 in the Lower State championship game.
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The Gamecocks, who last played for a championship in 1985 (beating Eastside 81-78 in the 4A finale), will be led by preseason all-state pick Travis Fredimon, who is still fully engaged in football. The Blazers, who have never made it past the third round, are looking to take the next step with preseason all-state pick Jarvis Davis in the forefront.
In other Midlands items of note, Fairfield Central (3A) and Keenan (2A) both rated No. 4 spots in the early rankings. Daniel dealt the Griffins from Winnsboro a first-round exit last season, while the Raiders made yet another deep playoff run before running into Southside again. The Tigers from Greenville eliminated Keenan in the third round in 2007, and sent the Raiders packing last season in the Upper State finals before going on to pummel Burke in the 2A title bout for its first championship since 1992. Southside enters the new season ranked No. 1.
FC’s Kendrick Anderson and Keenan’s Ryan Norris earned spots on the respective classification preseason all-state teams.
Crestwood’s Rayshon Mack was on the 3A all-state list, and the Knights were voted seventh in the 3A poll.
The rest of the Midlands’ ranked teams are: Richland Northeast (10th in 4A), Lower Richland (6th in 3A), Dreher (8th in 3A), Newberry (5th in 2A) and Eau Claire (9th in 2A).