It’s Monday and that means it’s time for the Lowco Lowdown, your one-stop shop for the top local sports stories you need to know from the past week and the week ahead.
Here’s what you need to know this week:
1. Creek’s connection to the champs. It usually takes a little bit of “Six Degrees of Separation” (or Kevin Bacon, if you please) to localize the Super Bowl, but we can get from the Lowcountry to this year’s big game in one step. Battery Creek coach Walt Wilson – the inaugural LowcoSports All-Area Coach of the Year – can now say he has coached a Super Bowl champion after former South Carolina star Alshon Jeffery won a ring with the Philadelphia Eagles last night. Jeffery played for Wilson at Calhoun County.
2. Hoops playoff seeds on the line. It’s the final week of the regular season for SCHSL basketball teams, so the playoff picture is taking shape. By my unofficial calculations, Ridgeland-Hardeeville and Battery Creek’s girls and Ridgeland-Hardeeville, Bluffton and May River’s boys have clinched playoff berths, and May River and Bluffton’s girls are virtual locks. The two teams that have the most interesting week ahead are Beaufort High’s girls and Hilton Head High’s boys. The Beaufort High girls enter the week in a three-way tie for the last two playoff spots from Region 8-4A along with Cane Bay and Colleton County, and the Eagles have home games against Cane Bay on Tuesday and Hilton Head High on Thursday. The Seahawk boys are in line for the fourth and final playoff spot from Region 8-4A, but they have only a one-game cushion over Cane Bay with games at Stall and Beaufort remaining. SCISA teams still have two weeks of regular-season games left, so we’ll sort out those scenarios next week.
3. Another National Signing Day is upon us. It seems like every time I turn around there’s another National Signing Day, but this one is the biggie because it includes football (though not *quite* as big as past years because of the addition of an early signing period in December this year). Wednesday is the first day of the “regular” signing period for football and soccer, and we’ll have a full roundup of area athletes who sign to play college ball this week. The highest-profile signing on my radar thus far is Hilton Head High defensive end Tyreke Young – the inaugural LowcoSports All-Area Defensive Player of the Year – who will sign with Temple on Wednesday.
4. Wrestling with disappointment. In a rare turn of events, no area high school wrestling team made it out of the second round of the state dual playoffs on Saturday. That might have been different had Beaufort High not been ineligible for the postseason due to a rules infraction last year, but without the Eagles in the Class 4A bracket, the Lowcountry bowed out early this year. To give you an idea of how rare it is for the dual season to end this early, at least one Beaufort County team had competed in the state championship match each of the past three years and in six of the past 10 seasons. Now it’s on to the individual tournaments starting with the SCISA state tourney this weekend and the SCHSL Lower State tournaments Feb. 16-17.
5. Mixed bag for Sand Sharks in season openers. The USCB softball team opened the season in impressive fashion with a dominant sweep of Columbia College on Saturday, winning 13-0 and 8-1, but the baseball team dropped two of three to Milligan (Tenn.) in its opening series. If you’re itching to get to the ballpark, you’ll have plenty of chances this week – USCB baseball plays at home Wednesday and hosts nationally-ranked Keiser for a Friday/Saturday series, and softball hosts St. Andrews on Friday and Brewton-Parker on Saturday.