Ridge View officially embarks on another interesting boys basketball season tonight at Dutch Fork. Once again, the Blazers are facing a demanding schedule before the start of Region 4-4A play in January.
Already, RV has participated in the first Palmetto Shootout preseason scrimmage and played Bishop England at New York’s famous Madison Square Garden. The Blazers have Midlands rivals Dutch Fork, Irmo and Richland Northeast on tap in December, a trip to face vaunted Oak Hill Academy in Virginia for the second year in a row and home date against four-time defending SCISA champion Pinewood Prep. Moreover, Ridge View is entered in two prestigious holiday tournaments – the Chick-fil-A Classic at RNE and the Roundball Classic in Charleston.
“Once again we are going to play a grossly tough non-region schedule that I believe is as tough as anyone plays in the state,” said coach John Combs, the man who put the slate together.
The obvious thinking here is Combs believes the front-end, loaded schedule will get the Blazers ready for a region championship run. It worked a year ago. RV had a poor record coming out of December, but went 8-2 to win the Region 4-4A championship, advance to the second round of the state playoffs and finish with an overall 11-14 record.
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Ridge View’s quest to repeat as region champions for the first time in school history will be a challenging one with the loss of three starting guards from last season’s title outfit. The good news is the return of 6-8 senior center Mike Green and 6-1 senior guard Jamar Gillespie. Green, who averaged 12.2 points a game last season, has signed to play college ball at Tennessee State.
“When you have a D-I player in Mike Green coming back that is a great thing,” said Combs.
“But when you lose guards like we had that is a bad thing. I am hopeful and excited to see how our other senior players respond now that they will be counted on to do more.”
The men on the hot seat include guard Raymond Jeter, 6-2 senior forward Kevin Edmonds and 6-1 forward Damien Moore. Other returning lettermen include junior guard Jamie Portee, junior guard Jared Johnson and junior guard Cameron Lee.
“Raymond Jeter did not get to play much last year, but I expect him to have a big year for us,” said Combs.
Here is the coach’s assessment of Region 4 this season:
“We hope to compete for another region championship, but it will once again it be really tough to do it. I believe the region should be improved and much more difficult than last year. Lancaster returns virtually their entire team from last year and I thought they were a tough team to play last year. They will be the most dangerous team offensively in the region. South Point, while they did lose their top player from last year, Tre Erby, they return a wealth of talent and hope to get some players back that did not play last year because of football. There seems to be a lot of excitement coming from Blythewood about their new coach, Coach Harris, and they had a really good JV team last year so teams better take notice of them. Rock Hill has a new coach all of a sudden, so I do not know what to expect from them. Spring Valley will have a much different team than what it had last year, and sophomore Dee Brooks is looked at as one of the top 10th graders in the state. So when I look at the region schedule I don't see any easy wins.”