Lou Bezjak

Who’s hot heading into second half of high school hoops season

Lexington coach Bailey Harris and the Wildcats moved into this week’s Midlands Top 10 high school basketball poll. The Wildcats are off to 10-0 start this season.
Lexington coach Bailey Harris and the Wildcats moved into this week’s Midlands Top 10 high school basketball poll. The Wildcats are off to 10-0 start this season. The State File Photo

Midlands high school basketball teams had a busy Christmas holiday with some playing in two tournaments over the break.

Here’s how some teams fared over the holiday and which players stood out in the early part of the season.

Boys

Keenan: The Raiders have been the Midlands most consistent team over the first two months and made it to the championship game in the Chick-fil-A Classic before losing to No. 1 La Lumiere. Keenan went 1-2 in the Farm Bureau Classic but played a game without guard Tariq Simmons. They will be at full strength for the region opener Friday against Gray Collegiate.

Lexington: The Wildcats have been one of the biggest surprises in the Midlands and are off to their best start since 1997. Lexington made it to the finals of the Sandestin Beach Blowout in Florida last week and has one of the area’s top scorers in Darius Bryant.

Irmo: The Yellow Jackets made it to the championship of the Cougar Classic before losing to Vance (N.C.). Center R.J. Gunn seems to be getting stronger after ACL surgery in the spring.

A.C. Flora: The Falcons bounced back from going winless in the Chick-fil-A Classic to winning the Poinsettia Classic last week in Greenville. The tough non-region schedule should have A.C. Flora ready for region play Friday against Chapin.

Ridge View: The Blazers started 1-4 but picked up a win over Irmo and then won their bracket at the Farm Bureau Classic at Dorman. Kaiden Rice was tournament MVP.

Blythewood: The Bengals went 4-2 combined in the Chick-fil-A and Pepsi Classics. Guard Trey Jackson tied former Gamecock Devan Downey’s mark of nine 3-pointers in a game at The Pepsi Classic.

Lower Richland: The Diamond Hornets won the Comporium Classic and got big performances from their Division I guards Clyde Trapp and Ja’Cor Nelson.

Westwood: The Redhawks are off to 8-4 start under new coach Jeff DiBattisto, three wins away from last year’s win total and finished third at the Poinsettia Classic.

Dreher: The Blue Devils lost their first game in the final of the Chesterfield Farm Bureau Classic but are 7-1 under first-year coach Steven Moore.

Dutch Fork: The Silver Foxes won both games at Carolinas Challenge and then went 2-1 in their bracket at Farm Bureau Classic.

Zion Williamson: People in the Midlands got a good look at the Spartanburg Day junior in the Chick-fil-A Classic and he didn’t disappoint, setting records for points in a game (53) and tournament (107). He starts off 2017 Tuesday against Ben Lippen.

Girls

Dreher: The Blue Devils went 1-2 in the CresCom Classic in Myrtle Beach against strong competition. Dreher looks to have a second scorer to compliment Jaelynn Murray in Hailyah Sumter.

Ridge View: The Blazers battled injuries early in the season but are healthy now and won their bracket at the Carolina Invitational, beating Goose Creek.

Westwood: The Redhawks’ two losses have been by a combined eight points last week at the Farm Bureau Classic in Spartanburg.

Spring Valley: The Vikings won the District 9 tournament last week in Sumter and have won seven straight since losing to Westwood and Ridge View.

Swansea: The Tigers (8-0) didn’t play over the break and are the only unbeaten team in the Midlands. Sophomore Danae McNeal leads the area in scoring at 29.1 points a game.

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