By Justin Jarrett | LowcoSports@gmail.com
If you want to get a pulse on the excitement for basketball season at Ridgeland-Hardeeville High School, consider this statistic – tryouts for the boys varsity and junior varsity teams drew about 125 players this season.
The school only has about 700 students, and only about half them are boys.
That’s what happens when you’ve had the history of success that legendary Jaguars coach Jeremiah Faber has enjoyed, including an 18-7 season last year in which RHHS won their fourth straight region title and advanced to the Class 3A Lower State semifinal before losing to Brookland-Cayce on a buzzer-beater.
The Jaguars return 10 lettermen from that team, including standout point guard Rashamel Butler, and they were ranked second in Class 3A in the S.C. Basketball Coaches Association’s preseason rankings.
The rest of the area’s SCHSL boys teams are in varying stages of rebuilding, all hoping to round into form in time for region play. Bluffton returns All-State guard Jermaine Patterson, but the Bobcats are the only area public-school team to return its top scorer from last season.
FIVE TO WATCH
• Jermaine Patterson, BLHS: Voted area Player of the Year by local coaches after averaging 27.1 points as a junior.
• Trevor Wright, HHIHS: Seahawks’ top returner averaged 8.6 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists a year ago.
• Isaiah Byam, MRHS: High-energy player uses athleticism to turn defensive stops into fast-break buckets.
• Rashamel Butler, RHHS: Junior guard is averaging 18 points and seven assists through Jags’ first two games.
• Robert Alston, WBECHS: Most experienced player on a Warriors team that lost about 90 percent of its scoring from a year ago.
Coach: Antoine Youmans
Overall record: 91-83 (7 seasons)
Record at school: 91-83 (7 seasons)
2016-17 record: 2-20
Returning letterwinners: 2
Top returners: G Trey Chancey, Soph.; F Myles Middleton, Sr.
Key losses: G Jakobie Wilson, F Isaiah Mayes, G Sterling Hampton
Top newcomers: F Jaquan Burton, Jr.; F Brandon Wilson, Jr.
Coach’s outlook: We’re a young team, but I feel like we can have a decent season if we can get them to play the right way. If we play with energy, play together, and play with a passion, things will work out in our favor.
Coach: Mike Ark
Record at school: First season
2016-17 record: 11-11
Returning letterwinners: 5
Key losses: C Matt Garay, G Monty White
Coach’s outlook: We lost a lot of leadership and good players, graduating our top seven from last season. Overall our team is young and inexperienced, but we have a hungry group that looks to compete every night.
Coach: Michael Tew
Record at school: 7-14 (1 season)
2016-17 record: 7-14
Returning letterwinners: 7
Top returners: G Jermaine Patterson, Sr.; F Ta’Vaughn Hamilton, Sr.; C Lee Kirkland, Soph.; G Richard Jenkins, Sr.; G Ramell Rivers, Jr.; F Dwayne Mayers, Sr.; G Andrew Babkiewicz, Sr.
Key losses: G Tyrese Sandgren
Top newcomers: F/C Donovan Raines, Jr.
HILTON HEAD HIGH
Coach: Ken Updike
Overall record: 71-101 (8 seasons)
Record at school: 71-101 (8 seasons)
2016-17 record: 12-13
Returning letterwinners: 7
Top returners: G Trevor Wright, Sr.; G Lance Jackson, Sr.; F Chris Washington, Sr.; F Davis Molloy, Jr.
Key losses: G Bryce Singleton, C Eric Foggo, F Hayden Schwartz
Top newcomers: C Will Danzell, Sr.; G Dean Seelbach, Soph.; F Bradley Morris, Soph.; F Jordan Singleton, Soph.; F Lindsay Franklin, Jr.
Coach: Matt Whitmore
Overall record: 14-9 (1 season)
Record at school: 14-9 (1 season)
2016-17 record: 14-9
Returning letterwinners: 6
Top returners: G Isaiah Byam, Sr.; G Ryan Livingston, Sr.; F Josh Patterson, Jr.; G/F Camden Davis, Sr.
Key losses: PG Jai Morrow, F/C Noah Middleton, F/C Spenser Stewart
Top newcomers: G Jack Hegan, Jr.
Coach’s outlook: We will have a different look this year with as much roster turnover as we’ve had. With last year’s team we were able to use our length and athleticism to force turnovers and then spread people out on offense to attack the rim. This year we must be very disciplined. We will have to be the toughest team on the floor to win games. We fully expect to compete in every game and give ourselves the opportunity to win down the stretch.
Coach: Jeremiah Faber
Overall record: 516 wins, 33rd season
2016-17 record: 18-7, Region 8-AAA champions
Returning letterwinners: 10
Top returners: PG Rashamel Butler, Jr.; SG Devin Butler, Jr.; SG Demonta Robinson, Sr.; SF Jabari Williams, Sr.; SF Demonta Pusha, Jr.; SF Williams Westbrook, Sr.; PG Ameer Wilson, Jr.; F Emanuel Hargrove, Jr.; C Corneous Wright, Sr.
Key losses: Tre’Von Anderson, Kamrin Waddy, Terry Pusha
Top newcomers: Ronald Zimmerman, Taven Smalls, Myles Pinckney, Amee Parker
Coach’s outlook: Our goals don’t ever change. We enter every season with these five goals – win our region, win all of our non-region games, go undefeated at home, be balanced and competitive on both ends of the floor, and make a deep run in the state playoffs.
Coach: Jim Raymond
Overall record: 29-22 (2 seasons)
Record at school: 29-22 (2 seasons)
2016-17 record: 19-7
Returning letterwinners: 5
Top returners: C Robert Alston, Sr.; G Xavier Bryan, Sr.; F Richard Campbell, Sr.; F Roshard Campbell, Sr.; G DeShawn Fields, Sr.
Key losses: G Cam Miller; G Kenny Brown; F George Delaney; G Xyion Youmans
Coach’s outlook: This will be a growing season. We have some talent returning but we are inexperienced. Every day we will be growing in experience, understanding and knowledge of the game. I expect us to be disciplined, hard-nosed and competitive.