Goose Creek boys, Bishop England girls aim for state basketball championships
Blake Hall doesn’t have that much experience in his two years as a head basketball coach. But he’s already experienced more postseason success than most coaches do in a career.
STATE CHAMPIONSHIPSColonial Life Arena, ColumbiaTickets: $10 (all ages) FridayBoys Class AAAAIrmo vs. Goose Creek, 8:30 p.m.SaturdayGirls Class AABishop England vs. Keenan, 2 p.m.
Hall will coach in his second straight state championship game when Goose Creek plays Irmo at 8:30 p.m. Friday in the Class AAAA boys final at the Colonial Life Arena in Columbia.
Last year, Hall was the coach at North Charleston and led the Cougars to the Class AA crown. He has a career record of 45-10, including 9-0 in the postseason.
“Coaching in two state championships in two years, that thought never crossed my mind,” Hall said. “I just wanted my kids to be successful on and off the court. I just wanted to be a positive role model.”
Friday’s assignment might be one of his most difficult. Irmo is the No. 1 team in the state with a 28-0 record and features two all-state players: point guard Detrek Brown and shooting guard Justin McKie.
“They’re the best in-state team we will face,” Hall said. “We played a really good team from Brooklyn (N.Y) in the Roundball Classic. We can’t worry about the other team. We just have to focus on the things we can control. We just have to go out and play our game.”
The High School League’s Weekend of Champions tips off Friday and culminates Saturday. Coaches and players from the qualifying teams fielded questions Monday during media day in Columbia.
One other local team remains in the hunt for a state title. The Bishop England girls go after their second straight Class AA state championship when they battle Keenan at 2 p.m. Saturday.
The Bishops are 23-3. Keenan, which features Class AA player of the year Keira Robinson, is 16-6.
Bishop England coach Paul Runey says most of the fans who attend Saturday’s Class AA state championship at the Colonial Life Arena will be rooting for Keenan, which is in Columbia.
“It’s in their backyard,” Runey said. “But we got used to that really fast on Saturday. Every time Kingstree did something (in the Lower State championship), the crowd erupted. When we did something, it was a whimper.”
The crowd at the Florence Civic Center pulled for Kingstree, which was mourning the death of its head coach, Sonya Burgess. She was killed in a hit-and-run crash five days before the game. The Bishops were able to block out the crowd and win.
Runey said Bishop England’s big-game experience might not be a factor this weekend.
“A lot of kids can block out everything once the game begins,” he said. “We have big-game experience and they do too. They played Timberland in the state championship a couple of years ago.”
High School League
at Colonial Life Arena, Columbia
Dorman vs. Irmo, 7 p.m.
Irmo vs. Goose Creek, 8:30 p.m.
McCormick vs. Hemingway, 11 a.m.
Bishop England vs. Keenan, 2 p.m.
Lower Richland vs. Orangeburg-Wilkinson, 5:30 p.m.
Lewisville vs. Whale Branch, 12:30 p.m.
Newberry vs. Lake Marion, 4 p.m.
Eastside vs. Hartsville, 7 p.m.