Lou Bezjak

PREP NOTEBOOK: Heathwood Hall’s Brandon Hill finalist for national award

Heathwood Hall’s Brandon Hill, running against Hammond, is a finalist for a national award.
Heathwood Hall’s Brandon Hill, running against Hammond, is a finalist for a national award. gmelendez@thestate.com

Heathwood Hall linebacker Brandon Hill is one of five finalists for the Watkins Award, which recognizes the nation’s top African-American male student athlete.

The winner of the award will be announced March 12 in Washington, D.C.

Hill is a four-year member of the Heathwood football team and will sign to play at Duke on Wednesday. He is the No. 8-ranked prospect in the state by 247Sports, and was an all-state selection this year by USA Today High School Sports.

Hill also plays soccer, and has earned all-state and all-region honors the past three seasons.

The Franklin D. Watkins Award was established in 1992 to promote academic excellence among young African-American males. Previous winners include former NBA player Shane Battier and Florida State football player Myron Rolle.

Newberry’s Hedgepath makes Baseball Hall

Former Newberry coach Harry Hedgepath will be part of the five-member inaugural class of the South Carolina Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame.

Hedgepath will be inducted posthumously, and will be joined by Holly Hill and Bamberg-Ehrhardt coach David Horton, Georgetown’s Mike Johnson, Chesnee’s W. Dean Jones and Chapman’s Bill Metcalf.

Hedgepath won five state championships and was instrumental in the development of American Legion baseball in South Carolina.

The other four coaches combined to win more than 2,500 games during their careers, with Johnson winning 744 and Jones 703.

Horton won 12 state championships at Holly Hill and Bamberg-Ehrhardt.

The induction ceremony will be held in May.

All-Star baseball coaches

Three Midlands high school baseball coaches have been selected to coach in the South Carolina Baseball Coaches All-Star games.

A.C. Flora’s Andy Hallett will be a coach for the South Carolina squad in the SC/NC Select game. River Bluff’s Mark Bonnette will be a coach for the Class A/4A South team, and Dreher’s Thane Maness will be a coach for the North 2/3A squad.

Coaching staffs for the games are:

NC/SC Select: Andy Hallett (A.C. Flora), Brooks Shumate (Sumter), Brad Richardson (Midland Valley)

Class A/4A North: Dell Corley (Rock Hill), Jeff Lipscomb (Boiling Springs)

Class A/4A South: Scott Cook (East Clarendon), Mark Bonnette (River Bluff)

Class 2A/3A North: Scott Kerwin (Liberty), Thane Maness (Dreher)

Class 2A/3A South: Jeff Gregory (Waccamaw), Matt Apicella (Lake City)

Seventh Woods still ailing

Hammond guard Seventh Woods said Thursday he likely will miss his second straight game Friday against Heathwood Hall.

Woods was out of the lineup Tuesday with a knee injury as Ben Lippen ended the Skyhawks’ 36-game winning streak. Hammond coach Mark McClam said Woods originally suffered an injury against Keenan in the Crescent Construction MLK Bash last week.

Woods is averaging 18.8 games, 5.2 assists, 3.4 steals and 1.3 blocks.

Region winning streaks

While Hammond’s 36-game winning streak ended Tuesday, the Keenan and Irmo boys’ basketball teams have impressive winning streaks still going.

Keenan has won 58 straight region contests, with its last loss coming against Eau Claire. Irmo has won 37 straight region games, with its last loss coming against Richland Northeast in 2012.

Westwood, Lexington wrestling titles

Westwood and Lexington wrapped up region wrestling championships Wednesday.

The Redhawks won their second straight Region 4-4A title with a 40-24 win over Lugoff-Elgin.

The Wildcats captured the Region 5-4A championship by defeating White Knoll, 40-28. It was Lexington’s 15th region title.

The state wrestling dual playoffs begin Feb. 6.

Cardinals win SCISA bowling title

Cardinal Newman girls bowling team captured its second straight SCISA title last week at Gamecock Lanes in Sumter.

The Cardinals rolled a 415 series, winning by 35 pins over Thomas Sumter.

Soccer clinic

The South Carolina High School Soccer Coaches Association will hold its 21st annual Winter Clinic this weekend in Columbia and Cayce.

Former Brookland-Cayce coach Troy Lesesne will be one of the speakers. Lesesne is a coach with the USL’s Charlotte Independence after coaching stints at the College of Charleston, Vancouver Whitecaps and the Charleston Battery. Lesesne was the S.C. Gatorade Player of the Year in 2001 and played professionally with the Battery.

First official practices for soccer and the rest of spring sports begins Monday. Lacrosse practice began this week.