The second half of the Region 5-3A basketball campaign begins Friday with a full slate of girls-boys doubleheaders.
Dreher emerged as the best overall program in the first half. The Blue Devils lead the boys race with a 5-0 record and a two-game edge over Swansea, South Aiken and Midland Valley, while the girls finished the first half in a three-way tie for first place with Brookland-Cayce and Airport at 4-1.
Jon Richards’ boys (13-5) have won six games in a row after dropping three straight in late December and early January. One of those losses was in double overtime to Region 4-3A leader Fairfield Central, another was a one-point decision to city rival Keenan at the Taco Bell tournament. Balanced scoring has been the Blue Devils calling card in region play with key contributions coming from Dominic Boyd, Quayshun Hawkins, Dominique Nathaniel, Chris Brown, James Whitehead and Aaron Johnson.
Nathaniel. who is averaging 14.0 points in region games, should return to the lineup Friday after missing the past two games. Otherwise, Hawkins leads the team with a 15.0 scoring average in the region, followed by Boyd (11.8 ppg) and Brown (10.0 ppg).
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Tequila McNeal, Shakena Smith and Emily Newton pace the Dresher girls. McNeal had a 34-point explosion vs. Swansea and is averaging 20.5 points a game in region play, while Smith is at 15.5 ppg.
In other Friday games, Brookland-Cayce travels to Swansea and Airport hosts Midland Valley.
The B-C girls opened the region season with a 64-57 win over the Tigers as Shaniqua Brown deposited a season-high 21 points. Brown sports an 8.8 scoring average in region play behind team leaders Asia Benn (14.0 ppg) and Taylor Vinson (12.2 ppg). The Bearcats boys are looking to turn things around after going 0-5 in the first half. Jake Benton (11.4 ppg. 7.4 rpg) and Jonathan Rumph (12.5 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 4.2 apg, 3.0 spg) are the B-C leaders.
Swansea opened the region season with a 42-40 win over B-C as Josh Niles scored 11 points with three rebounds and three assists. But while Niles was the headliner in that game, Trenton Green (14.3 ppg, 8.7 rpg), Damien Johnson (12.4 ppg , 5.5 rpg) and Kyndon Smith (12.1 ppg, 2.2 spg) have been the season leaders.
Airport’s girls team is looking to recover from a 49-29 loss to Dreher on Tuesday – its first region setback. The Eagles topped Midland Valley 47-37 in the first meeting as Jessica Ellison scored 16 points. Ellison, who managed just five points vs. Dreher, sports a 16.2 region scoring average. The Airport boys are out to reverse a 56-38 loss to Midland Valley in the region opener. Josh Gordon tops the Eagles with a 12.8 region scoring average.
Region 5-3A girls standings
Airport 4-1, Brookland-Cayce 4-1; Dreher 4-1; Swansea 1-4; South Aiken 1-4; Midland Valley 1-4.
Region 5-3A boys standings
Dreher 5-0; Swansea 3-2; South Aiken 3-2; Midland Valley 3-2; Airport 1-4; Brookland-Cayce 0-5.