It will be a top-five matchup Friday at Orangeburg-Wilkinson as the Bruinettes face the defending Class AAA champion Keenan Lady Raiders.
Keenan is 10-2 on the season, with both losses coming to out-of-state teams. They are ranked No. 1 in the latest SC Basketball Coaches Association poll that was released Thursday. Orangeburg-Wilkinson, who entered the season ranked second behind the Lady Raiders, are currently ranked fourth.
“I’m telling my team that this is just another game,” Orangeburg-Wilkinson head coach Cedrick Simpson said Thursday. "We should be playing at a high level every time we take the court.”
Keenan also features the state’s top-rated prospect Milaysia Fulwiley. The junior guard is currently ranked the ninth best player in the country for the Class of 2023 by prepgirlshoops.com. She leads the Lady Raiders in points per game (29), rebounds per game (11), assists per game (6) and steals per game (4).
“(Fulwiley) is a hell of a player, probably the best I have seen in the last 20 years,” Simpson said. “But our girls have seen good players before, this is nothing new to them. We have to trust our team defense and not get into a one-on-one battle.”
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The Bruinettes faced another top-five team in Blue Ridge during tournament play earlier this season. Orangeburg-Wilkinson lost to the Lady Tigers 53-20.
“We shot terrible against (Blue Ridge),” Simpson said. “We had some good looks, but couldn’t convert. It was definitely a learning experience, and prepared us for this game against Keenan. These are the types of games that prepare you for the playoffs. It could be a preview of a possible Class AAA state title game.”
Simpson said he will be relying on his senior trio of Deondra Darby, Shar’dasia Zeigler and Asia Graves. Zeigler currently leads the team in scoring with nearly 14 points per game. Dabry is averaging just over 11 points per game.
Defensively, Orangeburg-Wilkinson is averaging just over 11 steals per game.
“We have to rely on defense,” Simpson said. “It will take a whole team effort. Our job is to make (Fulwiley) as uncomfortable as possible. We want to make it hard for her to score.”
The Bruinettes were away from the court for nearly two weeks before facing Woodland Tuesday night. Orangeburg-Wilkinson defeated the Lady Wolverines 59-36 to improve to 10-3 on the season.
“We played decent against Woodland,” Simpson said. “I think the break was a good thing for us. We had some players dealing with some illness, but we should have a full roster ready for Friday night.”
Following Friday’s game, Orangeburg-Wilkinson will begin region play Tuesday at Gilbert.
SC Basketball Coaches Association Top 10 (Jan. 6)
AAA Boys Top 10
6. Blue Ridge
7. Union County
9. Fox Creek
AAA Girls Top 10
2. Lower Richland
3. Blue Ridge
1A Boys Top 10
1. Scott's Branch
2. Calhoun County
4. Baptist Hill
5. Carver's Bay
6. Calhoun Falls Charter
8. South Side Christain
10. Bridges Prep
1A Girls Top 10
1. Military Magnet
2. East Clarendon
3. High Point Academy
4. Lake View
6. Whale Branch
7. Southside Christian