COLUMBIA – The Orangeburg-Wilkinson girls and Lake Marion boys basketball teams have aspirations of again playing for state championships.
Despite dropping down a classification, the Bruinettes and Gators will open as the proverbial “hunted” in their new homes. The two teams will be announced as preseason No. 1s today at Seawell’s Restaurant during the S.C. Basketball Coaches Association’s preseason banquet.
O-W will sit atop Class 3-A a season after reaching its second Class 4-A title game in four years. Defending Class 3-A champion Dreher is ranked No. 2 followed by Lower Richland.
Other T&D Region ranked girls’ basketball teams include Class 2-A newcomer Calhoun County (10th), Class A Upper State finalist Denmark-Olar (third) and Blackville-Hilda (10th). The Lady Hawks’ Shawanda Ferguson is among the Top Five Senior Girls in Class A.
On the boys’ side, Lake Marion will make its Class 2-A debut at the top position ahead of last year’s runner-up Newberry, fifth-ranked Calhoun County and eight-ranked Woodland. The Gators’ Khalil Halls was also selected among the Top Five Senior Boys in Class A.
In Class A, Hunter-Kinard-Tyler is the lone local team ranked in the preseason Class A poll at number five. Senior Carl Heyward of Bethune-Bowman is a preseason Top Five Senior in the classification.
For the third straight year, a T&D Region player is ranked among the state’s “Elite.” Orangeburg-Wilkinson’s Tashombe Riley is one of six seniors selected by the SCBCA for the honor.
Meanwhile, the Bruins were ranked third in the preseason poll behind defending champion Hartsville, coached by former Hunter-Kinard-Tyler head coach and South Carolina State guard Aric Samuel and No. 2 Eastside.
Look for a full story in Thursday’s T&D along with video interviews from the banquet.