BOWMAN COLUMN: Wando-Mauldin rivalry one of best
What's the best high school sports rivalry in the state?
If you think long and hard, and focus on sports other than, say, football, you could come to the conclusion that it's Wando versus Mauldin in girls soccer.
Both schools live up to their reputation as being the state's best. When was the last time either Wando or Mauldin had a down year?
Wando is No. 1 in the SC Soccer preseason poll, and Mauldin is No. 2.
Wando topped Mauldin, 1-0, in last May's Class AAAA state championship to cap a 23-1 season. It was the Warriors' second straight title, and they enter the 2012 campaign with 49 wins and a tie in their last 51 matches.
Last year's showdown marked the fourth straight year that Wando and Mauldin played in the title match, with Wando claiming three titles. The two schools have played for all the marbles seven times since the High School League sanctioned the sport 1991.
Wando coach Shannon Champ has an impressive roster loaded with talent. Junior Rachel Torlay has had a big role in the team's last two titles.
Wando, which has 24 victories in its last 25 playoff games, won last year's match when Torlay scored from 7 yards in the 22nd minute against Mauldin.
Torlay had Wando's goal in regulation in the 2010 title game, scoring on a penalty kick in the 51st minute against the Mavericks. Wando won, 2-1, in an 11-round penalty-kick shootout.
West Ashley is the only other local team ranked in the girls Class AAAA poll. The Wildcats are No. 7.
St. James heads the girls Class AAA poll. Hilton Head, the defending state champion, is No. 2.
Defending state champ Academic Magnet is No. 1 in the Class AA-A poll. Bishop England is No. 2.
The Raptors claimed their first soccer state title last spring thanks to the play of junior Kallie Peurifoy and senior keeper Emily Gossen, who was named All-State two times.
Peurifoy had a sensational playoff run, and capped it with a pair of first-half goals in a 3-1 victory over Christ Church for the state title.
The Raptors have a deep roster. They didn't have a senior in the starting lineup in the title game and had only two on the roster.
In the boys poll, Wando, which pulled off one of the biggest upsets in state championship history with a win over Irmo, is No. 1. Irmo is No. 2, and Fort Dorchester checks in at No. 5. Beaufort is No. 9.
Eastside is No. 1 in Class AAA, while Bishop England and Academic Magnet are 1-2 in the Class AA poll. Hanahan is No. 9.
Christ Church is No. 1 in Class A, while Charleston Charter is No. 4 after reaching the state championship last May.
In SCISA, Cardinal Newman is No. 1 in the boys poll, while Pinewood Prep is second and Porter-Gaud third. Cardinal Newman is No. 1 in the girls poll, and Pinewood is second.
You can check out the full rankings at scsoccer.com.
The Wando boys basketball team beat West Ashley for the third time this season, and Friday's 53-52 decision might have been the most dramatic.
The Warriors' Elijah Legree scored on a tip-in with just 3.8 seconds left in the game to cap a furious Wando rally.
West Ashley led 48-35 heading into the final eight minutes, but the Warriors rallied to post their 18th victory of the season in 20 games. The Warriors took a big step toward the Region 7-AAAA title, upping their league record to 5-0.
Wando beat West Ashley, 51-49, in the West Ashley Invitational on Dec. 20 and topped the Wildcats, 67-46, in a region game. West Ashley is 16-5, 3-2.
Legree scored 16, Richie Alston added 11 and Josh Walker 10.
Tre McLean led West Ashley with 21 points, and Matthew Ealy chipped in 11.
Follow Philip M. Bowman on Twitter at @pandcphil.