We’ve officially traded our chilly Friday nights under the lights for evenings and weekends spent in musty gyms and the lingering shrill of whistles ringing in our ears.
Winter sports have come.
We’re still in the feeling out period of the basketball and wrestling seasons, as teams look for newcomers to fill the shoes of departed seniors and hope a new team can jell together in time for the postseason.
In other words, we can take whatever we think we know at this point with a grain of salt. And considering the name of this column is built around my own cynical view that I could really *know* anything, it’s not a difficult leap for me.
Here are “Five Things I Think I Know” presented by Coligny.
• CJ Brown and Chane Brown were happy dudes this weekend.
I can’t imagine the pressure these two guys were feeling waiting for their first win as head coaches, and that pressure would have continued to build the longer they went without a “W.” Luckily, neither had to wait too long, and both had the good fortune of earning their first wins at home — on the same courts where they were high school standouts. Although I’m certain they would have been just as happy to get their first victories away from home, there’s something special about doing it on a familiar court. Beaufort High’s Jeremy Huff had a similar experience last week, and I know none of them will ever forget their first one, especially coming at home while coaching at school’s where they have deep roots.
• Tatyana Aiken and Tacoya Heyward are going to be a dynamic duo in Bluffton’s backcourt.
Everybody knew what the Bobcats had back in Aiken, who has picked up where she left off last season and is averaging 18.7 points, 8.7 rebounds and 8.7 steals (!!!) through three games of her senior year. The X-factor was what Bluffton would get out of Heyward, who is an eighth grader in her first full varsity season. If the first three games are any indication — against solid competition — it could be a very good year for Lonnie Roberts’ team. Heyward has put up 12.7 points per game and swiped five steals per contest, and she’s only going to get better.
• Wrestling is on the rise in Beaufort County.
When I first arrived in the Lowco in 2005, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of high school wrestling. No, wrestling in the Palmetto State wasn’t on par with Pennsylvania or Iowa, or even Kansas or Missouri, but at least the teams in Beaufort County were solid. Battery Creek was strong in the oughts, and so were Bluffton, Beaufort High, and Hilton Head High. I was disappointed, however, to learn there wasn’t much of a youth program. You can’t sustain success without feeder programs. Predictably, things slumped a little for a couple years, but May River and Beaufort remain top-five teams, and the others are on the rebound. And we’re working to ensure we don’t see another slump in a few years. The Lowcountry Wrestling Club hosted its first tournament Sunday at May River High School, and we had more than 120 wrestlers from throughout the Lowcountry and Coastal Empire, including 52 from Beaufort County. That’s how you build sustainable success at the high school level.
• Y’all should really be listening to the LowcoSports Lowdown podcast.
I know some people are apprehensive about podcasts or maybe don’t really know what they are. Think of it as a radio show you can listen to on demand. If you’ve listened to Mike & Mike or the Dan Patrick Show, I’m not saying we’re as good as them — not even close — but that’s kind of the idea. This week’s episode, which will be out by Tuesday morning, is chock full of analysis and interviews with local sports figures in the news, including postgame interviews from the Bluffton-May River, Beaufort-Battery Creek, and Hilton Head High-Hilton Head Prep basketball games, and May River’s Ashley Powell joins us for our high school wrestling preview. If you care about local sports, you’re going to … wait for it … #GoLOWCO!
Hear local sports news and analysis every week from LowcoSports founder Justin Jarrett and Wes Kerr on the LowcoSports Lowdown podcast! Available now on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts!
• It’s important to remember just how frivolous all of this is.
I love sports, obviously. I’ve built my life and my career around it. But while sports plays an important role in our lives and our society, it is not life and death. We were reminded Saturday, when 5-year-old Ameer Frazier was killed in a tragic accident following the Bluffton Christmas Parade. It’s staggeringly heartbreaking. But a beautiful thing has happened in the wake of this tragedy, as an entire town and region has stepped up and banded together to lift up the grief-stricken family, which just happens to be a family with deep roots in the Lowco. It’s a great reminder of why we should shake hands win or lose, and why we love this place so. We’re all in it together.