High School Basketball

Tradition-rich Keenan going for rare championship sweep

Keenan girls celebrate winning state championship

Keenan defeated Mullins, 51-28, to win Class 2A girls state championship.
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Keenan defeated Mullins, 51-28, to win Class 2A girls state championship.

Keenan High will look to do something this weekend that has been done only twice in the past 35 years: win both the boys and girls basketball state championships in the same season.

The Raider girls play Bishop England for the Class 3A championship on Saturday, with the boys right after against Ridgeland-Hardeeville. High Point Academy also will try for the sweep in Class A on Friday.

Lee Central is the last team to sweep championships — their teams won 2A titles in 2007. Before that, Terrells Bay High School won titles in 1994 with the late Taft Watson coaching both teams that day.

“Tradition is everything. That is what sets Keenan apart from a lot of different programs. There is a lot of programs building their tradition. Ridge View is building theirs,” Keenan junior Dillon Jones said. “It is unique that our boys and girls are both in the championship. It is good to be here, but now we got to execute and win it. If you get there and don’t win, it really doesn’t mean anything.”

Jones has been a part of the program since he was a youngster as a ball boy watching his brother Eric Washington play. Junior Raekwon Horton moved to Columbia from the Santee area and quickly learned about the rich tradition at Keenan.

“When I moved here and I saw them winning, I wanted to win too,” Horton said. “I like playing for a school with tradition because they hold you to high standards.”

This won’t be Keenan’s first attempt at the sweep. Both teams played for titles in 2011 with the boys beating Mullins and the girls losing to Timberland in overtime.

Sweeping championships would add another chapter to the legacy of the Keenan basketball program. The Raider boys won their first title in 1975 and have won five since Zach Norris took over for Ben Trapp in 1999-2000.

Keenan has made it at least to the state semifinals in 15 of Norris’ 20 seasons and is in its seventh championship game. This might be one of the Raiders’ better teams under Norris, but he acknowledges they can’t be considered a great team without the championship.

“That is our goal every year, to make it to the state championship and eventually win it,” Norris said. “There is a lot of pride in the Keenan community with basketball. Everyone supports them and everyone knows who they are. The little kids know them.

“It is the expectation from the neighborhood. We would like to see a lot of people come out and the whole bowl full with Keenan people Saturday.”

The girls program hasn’t had success as long as the boys have but is getting there. The Raiders had one title appearance in 1995 before the run they are on under Reggie McLain. Keenan won its first title in 2008 and has added two more since then.

The Keenan girls have one of the youngest teams playing this weekend with no seniors on the roster and their best player being eighth grader Milaysia Fulwiley.

“Keenan was winning at basketball for quite some time. The boys have been winning championships all the way back until the ‘70s and the girls have picked it up in 2000s, and we try to go with that tradition and keep it going,” McLain said.

Championship schedule

At Colonial Life Arena in Columbia

Admission is $12

TV: Games will be carried locally on WACH 57.2. Ridge View and Wilson’s game will be on WACH 57.

INTERNET: All games will be streamed on www.nfhsnetwork.com (subscription required)

RADIO: Andrew Jackson-Gray Collegiate, Spring Valley and Ridge View games will be carried on 102.7 FM and online and the station’s app.

Friday

Class A Girls Championship

High Point Academy vs. Scott’s Branch, 3:30 p.m.

Class A Boys Championship

High Point Academy vs. Hemingway, 5 p.m.

Class 5A Girls Championship

Spring Valley vs. Goose Creek, 7 p.m.

Class 5A Boys Championship

Berkeley vs. Dorman, 8:30 p.m.

Saturday

Class 2A Girls Championship

Christ Church vs. Mullins, 10:30 a.m.

Class 2A Boys Championship

Gray Collegiate vs. Andrew Jackson, noon

Class 3A Girls Championship

Keenan vs. Bishop England, 2 p.m.

Class 3A Boys Championship

Keenan vs. Ridgeland-Hardeeville, 3:30 p.m.

Class 4A Girls Championship

North Augusta vs. South Pointe, 5:30 p.m.

Class 4A Boys Championship

Wilson vs. Ridge View, 7 p.m.

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.


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