High School Basketball

Seven Midlands storylines to watch for in SC high school basketball playoffs

With South Carolina High School League playoffs beginning this week and SCISA playoffs the following, here are a few storylines to look for in the postseason:

Will Lexington’s boys’ magical season continue?

Lexington has been one of the biggest surprises in the state this year. The Wildcats (26-0) completed their first unbeaten regular season in school history and are one of two teams in the state that hasn’t lost a game this season with the other being the Dillon girls.

The senior-laden team has homecourt advantage up until the Class 5A Lower State championship game in Florence so another state title run for hall of fame coach Bailey Harris isn’t out of the question.

Spring Valley and Irmo are in the 5A Upper State bracket. The Vikings surprised some by winning the Region 4-5A title. The Vikings have homecourt through the Upper State championship where they could face two-time defending state champ Dorman.

Irmo might get first chance at Dorman in the second round if they beat Fort Mill at home.

Are Keenan programs destined for title appearances?

Keenan boys and girls are no strangers to playing for state titles and could do it again this year despite moving up from Class 2A to 3A.

The Keenan boys have been the top-ranked team in 3A all year, and their only loss is to 5A state champion Dorman. Coach Zach Norris has one of the best offensive teams he’s had at Keenan with the likes of Asanti Price, Dillon Jones, Raekwon Horton and Latrell Taylor.

On the girls’ side, Keenan started slow but went through the region unbeaten. The Raiders have a dominant 1-2 combination in eighth grader Milyasia Fulwily and Dyani Burke.

Westwood and Ridge View Part III?

Westwood and Ridge View boys put on a thriller Friday night as the Redhawks won, 58-57, on Russell Jones’ shot with six seconds.

But will we get a third matchup of the two top-ranked teams in Class 4A? If that happens, it won’t be until the Upper State championship. Westwood and Ridge View won’t have an easy path to get there.

Ridge View has homecourt advantage but could face Region 4-4A champ AC Flora in round three. Westwood starts off with talented Lakewood team and could be on the road for next two games.

Will McNeal, Thompson’s final runs result in title game?

Division I signees Danae McNeal and Olivia Thompson will look to end their high school careers with a state championship appearance.

McNeal, the Clemson signee and reigning 3A Player of the Year, hopes to help the second-ranked Swansea squad to the championship game. The Tigers reached the Lower State championship last year. The biggest obstacle might be No. 1 Bishop England, and the two would meet in the third round.

Thompson, the South Carolina signee, helped Lexington win its first outright region title since 2000. The Wildcats’ playoff road could feature a matchup with Socastee/West Ashley winner in the third round and No. 1 Goose Creek in Lower State final.

Will anyone challenge Gray Collegiate boys in 2A?

The Gray Collegiate boys are looking for their second straight 2A title and will have a different road to do it.

The War Eagles won’t have to play Keenan, a team they faced in previous two state semifinals. But Gray is in the Lower State bracket and will have to have possibly Mullins in the third round and likely either Carvers Bay or Oceanside in the Lower State championship.

Gray beat Carvers Bay in the title game last year and Oceanside earlier this year. The War Eagles will have homecourt advantage to Lower State title game.

Homecourt edge could be big for Spring Valley, Westwood girls

If Spring Valley and Westwood are to make another deep postseason run, neither will have to leave home to do it.

The defending 5A state champion Vikings have homecourt advantage up until the Upper State championship. Spring Valley hasn’t lost to a 5A team in-state this year with two losses coming to 4A South Pointe and North Augusta.

Westwood, the Region 3-4A champion, looks to make it to its second Upper State championship and wouldn’t have to do deal with two-time champ North Augusta until to the state title game.

Redhawks’ toughest challenge could come in third round against Lower Richland and possibly in the Upper State title game against South Pointe, which split with Westwood this season.

Can Cardinal Newman sweep SCISA 3A titles?

The SCISA playoffs don’t start for another week, but Cardinal Newman might be the favorite to win boys and girls titles.

Cardinal Newman boys’ biggest obstacles in the three-round tournament would likely come from three-time defending state champion Porter-Gaud, First Baptist and Hammond. The Cards beat P-G and First Baptist this year and split with Hammond.

The Cardinal Newman girls, who lost in the title game last year, haven’t lost a game since December and its biggest challenges should come from Wilson Hall or Florence Christian.

Lou Bezjak is the High School Sports Prep Coordinator for The State and Island Packet. He has covered high school sports in South Carolina for 16 years and is a two-time South Carolina Sports Writer of the Year by the National Sports Media Association.