The varsity boys basketball teams from Sumter and Lakewood high schools had high expectations entering the 2017-18. Both stumbled a bit coming out of the gate, but they hit their strides once region play began and brought home region crowns.
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Now they hope to ride that momentum to a deep, deep run in their respective state playoffs, which begin today.
SHS will play host to Goose Creek in the first round of the 5A state playoffs, while Dreher will come to The Swamp to take on the Gators in the 4A playoffs
Starting time for both contests is 7 p.m.
Both Gamecock head coach Shawn Jones and LHS head coach Bryan Brown like where their respective squads are at this point.
"We were mainly a junior varsity (from last season) team at the start of this year," said Jones, whose squad is 16-6 and went 9-1 to win the Region VI crown. "It took a little while for them to figure out exactly what we wanted them to do. But we've gotten better both offensively and defensively and are playing really well right now."
"I feel like our team is playing really good right now," said Brown, whose squad is 16-9 and won the Region VI-4A crown for a second straight season with a 7-1 record.
Goose Creek finished fifth in Region VII and is 12-10 overall. Jones said GC is a well disciplined team, but he likes his squad's chances of moving on to the second round.
"If we control the game, take care of the basketball and play defense the way we've been playing, we should be in good shape," Jones said.
Brown likes Lakewood's chances against 9-13 Dreher as well.
"Dreher is from the Columbia region (V in which it finished fourth), and they play good basketball," Brown said. "If we go out and do the things we're supposed to do, we should be able to take care of business."
Another region champion -- IV-2A winner Lee Central -- will also play its first-round game today as well. The 20-3 Stallions will be at home against Region III No. 4 Eau Claire beginning at 7 p.m. The Shamrocks are 11-12.
The East Clarendon and Scott's Branch girls teams, who both received first-round byes in the 1A state playoffs after winning region titles, will play their first playoff games on Thursday.
Region VI champion EC, which is 15-5, will play host to Cross at 7 p.m. in Turbeville. Cross defeated Military Magnet 56-41 in Monday's first round.
Scott's Branch, the 10-5 Region V champion, will be at home against Hannah-Pamplico, also at 7. H-P edged Baptist Hill 34-33 in the first round.
Manning will play in the second round of the 3A playoffs on Thursday against Dillon. The Lady Monarchs improved to 19-5 with a 52-46 win over May River in Monday's first round.
Goose Creek at Sumter, 7 p.m.
Dreher at Lakewood, 7 p.m.
Eau Claire at Lee Central, 7 p.m.
Manning at Dillon, 7 p.m.
Cross at East Clarendon, 7 p.m.
Hannah-Pamplico at Scott's Branch, 7 p.m.
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