The Sumter High School varsity girls basketball team went 3-18 last season and just prior to the start of preseason practice head coach Frances Fields resigned for personal reasons.
Fast forward a few months and the Lady Gamecocks completed a …
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Fast forward a few months and the Lady Gamecocks completed a 15-6 regular season, finished second in Region VI-5A to earn a first-round home game in the 5A state playoffs, and they are ranked No. 10 in the final South Carolina Basketball Coaches Association poll released on Monday.
"We're extremely happy with the season we've had," said SHS interim head coach Jeff Schaffer, who came over as an assistant on the boys varsity, but had a long tenure as the girls head coach on a previous occasion. "They've been eager to learn and they really bought into what we're trying to do.
"Anything now is really icing on the cake," he added, "but we want to go as far as we can."
Sumter opens the playoffs today against White Knoll at 7 p.m. at the SHS gymnasium. WK is 9-12 on the season and finished fifth in Region V.
"One thing I've noticed looking at them on film is they give you full-court man-to-man (defense) for 32 minutes," Schaffer said of the Lady Wolves. "We've done a good job of late of handling other teams' pressure like that. We did a really good job with Conway on Saturday (in a 60-46 victory in Florence in a special game to determine second place and the home game that goes with it)."
White Knoll is led Yamiah Johnson. She is averaging well over 20 points a contest, while no one else on the roster is close to double figures.
"She can do everything for them," Schaffer said. "She can shoot from the outside, and she really strong rebounding. She can cause some matchup problems for us. I've heard she might not be able to play (due to injury), but we're preparing like she is."
The Lady Gamecocks are the exact opposite. They don't have one player scoring in double figures, but six who are averaging between 9.6 points and 6.5 points a contest.
Tamerah Brown leads the way with a 9.6 average. She is followed by Nina Edlow at 9.3, Layken Cox at 8.0, Carnasia Wells at 6.9, Latrice Lyons at 6.7 and Dynasia Jackson at 6.5. For good measure, Kiara Jones is averaging 4.3.
"I really think it is an advantage for us," Schaffer said of having several different player capable of putting up double figures on any given night. "The more points you have spread around like that, the better it is for you. It makes it hard for teams to scout you because they don't know where the points might be coming from."
Cox leads in rebounding at 8.5 Brown is next at 5.8 followed by Jackson at 4.8, Edlow at 4.0 and Jones at 3.9. Brown is the assist leader at 3.2 and Wells averages 2.4.
Sumter is one of seven local teams entering the playoffs as a ranked team. The Sumter boys are ranked fourth and the Crestwood girls are fifth in the 4A poll. Lakewood reentered the 4A boys poll at No. 8. The Manning girls were tied for 10th heading in the 3A poll heading into their first-round game on Monday, while the Lee Central boys are third in the 2A poll and the East Clarendon girls are No. 1 in the 1A poll.
The Sumter boys will play host to Goose Creek in the first round on Wednesday. The Gamecocks are 16-6 while Goose Creek is 12-10.
The Crestwood girls will open today against Dreher. The Lady Knights are 18-3, while Dreher is 8-13. The Lakewood girls also play today in the 4A playoffs at Lower Richland. The Lady Gators are 9-10 and LR is 14-9.
The Lakewood boys will be at home on Wednesday against Dreher. The Gators are 16-9 and Dreher is 9-13.
tle for a second straight season. Dreher finished fourth in Region V and is 9-13.
The Lee Central boys will play host to Eau Claire on Wednesday. The Stallions are 20-3, while EC is 11-12.
The Lee Central girls play at Saluda today. The Lady Stallions are 8-11, while Saluda is 16-5.
The Manning boys will play host to Bluffton today in the 3A playoffs. The Monarchs are 16-6, while Bluffton is 15-8.
ll take on either Loris or the Region V No. 4 team in the second round.
The East Clarendon boys will be at home against St. John's today in the 1A playoffs. EC is 9-11 and SJ is 12-11.
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