Lou Bezjak

Notebook: Tariq Simmons back with Keenan boys basketball

Keenan High School guard Tariq Simmons (1) brings the ball up against Ridgeland-Hardeeville in the first half of the 2015 Class 2A Boys State Finals at Colonial Life Arena.
Keenan High School guard Tariq Simmons (1) brings the ball up against Ridgeland-Hardeeville in the first half of the 2015 Class 2A Boys State Finals at Colonial Life Arena. jblake@thestate.com

Tariq Simmons will end up finishing his high school career in the Midlands after all.

Simmons enrolled at Keenan on Monday, two months after announcing he would spend his senior season at Quality Education Academy in Winston-Salem, N.C.

“I owe my family, friends , teammates and coaches and I realized that I don't need to leave SC,” Simmons said.

Simmons’ return ends an interesting couple of months for the senior guard. In June, he announced he and Lower Richland’s Carlos Nuttry would be attending Forest Trail Academy in North Carolina. But after talking more about it with his parents, Simmons decided to stay. Two months later, he said he would be attending Quality Education.

The return of Simmons will help the Raiders, who reached the Class 2A Upper State finals last season. The senior guard averaged 16.7 points and 4.7 rebounds and was an all-state selection. As a sophomore, Simmons led the team in scoring at 18.6 points per game as Keenan won the 2014 2A state championship.

The 6-foot-2 Simmons has offers from Maryland Eastern Shore, Charleston Southern, Stephen F. Austin and College of Charleston.

SCHSL calls special meeting

The South Carolina High School League has called a special Executive Committee Meeting on Wednesday at 10 a.m. to discuss the further adjustments to the football schedule because of Hurricane Matthew.

Last week, the SCHSL pushed back the end of the regular season and state championships a week. But many schools in the Pee Dee, Grand Strand and Lowcountry have yet to return to school, and some areas are still without power.

“We have been working feverishly to solidify a schedule that is suitable for the majority of athletic programs across our state. Many of our member schools have experienced great disruption following Hurricane Matthew,” SCHSL commisioner Jerome Singleton said. “Communities will be partaking in joint efforts during the clean-up process while schools return to normalcy. Keeping the integrity and spirit of the sports alive is a concern, while student safety is of the utmost importance. As always, we appreciate your patience and willingness to help.”

The SCHSL has extended the tennis and volleyball seasons a week. Playoffs will begin Oct. 26-27.

Hammond-Porter Gaud game called off

Hammond’s football game scheduled for last week at Porter-Gaud was postponed because of Hurricane Matthew and won’t be made up.

Ben Lippen’s home game at Orangeburg Prep was scheduled to be made up Monday, but was postponed. BL coach Derrick White hopes to make up the game at a later date.

Midlands soccer teams earn honors

Several Midlands soccer programs earned the NSCAA Team Academic Award for exemplary performance in the classroom as a team during the 2015-16 academic year.

Brookland-Cayce and Cardinal Newman were two of 48 schools to earn the honor for both boys and girls programs. B-C girls had a 3.79 grade point average, while the boys had a 3.37. Cardinal Newman girls had a 4.3 team GPA and the boys a 4.01. To qualify for the award, the team must have a minimum grade point average of 3.25 for the entire academic year.

Other Midlands girls soccer programs receiving honors were A.C. Flora (4.22), Hammond (3.95), Dreher (3.55) and Chapin (3.41). On the boys side, White Knoll had a 3.80 GPA.

Lexington’s Stepp earns award

Lexington coach Josh Stepp was named the Carolina Panthers Coach of the Week this week.

The award recognizes high school football coaches from either North or South Carolina throughout the season. Stepp will receive a $1,000 donation from Carolina Panthers Charities and the NFL to Lexington’s athletics department.

Winning coaches also get a personalized Carolina Panthers game ball, and will be honored during a Panthers home game Dec. 11. During the ceremony, the Panthers will announce the Coach of the Year, with the winning coach receiving an extra $2,000 for his athletics department.

Stepp is 35-13 in his fourth season at Lexington, and led the Wildcats to the Class 4A Division II championship game last year.

Cardinal Newman names Hall class

Former football coach Cecil Woolbright and former South Carolina baseball player Chris Spigner will be among this year’s inductees into the Cardinal Newman Hall of Fame.

The inductees will be enshrined in a ceremony Sunday at 11 a.m. at Alumni Hall. The rest of the class is Vincent Dial (football/track), Pam Garrett (basketball/softball), Stephen Chisholm (basketball), Kelly Ahrens (football/weightlifting/baseball), Kevin Rose (football/baseball/basketball/golf) and the 1969 state championship boys basketball team.