Leon Wheaton has changed the basketball culture at Fort Dorchester High School since he was hired as the boys coach in time for the 2009-10 season. He has led the program to its first region championship, produced a state player of the year and most importantly created an aura of confidence.
Beaufort 63, Manning 53
Fort Dorchester 94, Estill 18
Timberland 49, Baptist Hill 38
Burke 68, Bethune-Bowman 38
Manning vs. Bethune-Bowman loser, 4 p.m.
Estill vs. Baptist Hill, 5:30 p.m.
Fort Dorchester vs. Timberland, 7 p.m.
Beaufort vs. Burke, 8:30 p.m.
Modie Risher Invitational
Results and Schedule
"We had a player transfer in and I asked him to write down his goals," Wheaton said. "One of his goals was to finish at .500. I told him we aim a little higher than that. I told him finishing .500 never crosses our mind. Our goal is to finish in the upper echelons. We target region titles and deep playoff runs. We want to be more than just a .500 team."
The Patriots are a perfect team in the early stages of the 2013-14 season. They defeated Estill, 94-18, on Thursday night in the first round of Burke High School's Modie Risher Classic to improve to 7-0.
Wheaton warned his team it could have been a trap game because the Patriots had a couple of days off for the Christmas holiday and were facing a team they knew very little about. But it was a false alarm as the Patriots led 32-1 after one stop.
A running clock was used beginning with the second quarter. And that wasn't enough to stop the Patriots from posting a season-high 94 points.
The Patriots return five lettermen from last year's team. Baptiste Staggers was the star of the show last winter, but graduated.
Eric Heyward is the big name on a roster that includes four seniors, four juniors and another three or four freshmen and sophomores.
The team went 13-11 last winter, losing to West Ashley in the Class AAAA playoffs.
This year, the Patriots already have a win over West Ashley and another over Goose Creek, a top-10 team in the coaches' state preseason poll. The Patriots also own two victories over a talented Woodland team.
Seniors Dimitri Carter and Wayne Chisolm and juniors William Munoz and Dajuan Bennett also return from last year's varsity team.
Junior James McFadden, who was injured last season, and sophomore Travon Hamilton are also making contributions as is Khaliel Backman, who scored 21 in the upset victory over Goose Creek.
Heyward scored 12 points for the Patriots, who had five players in double figures and 11 enter the scoring column.
"He's very smart, tough as nails," Wheaton said of Heyward. "He's a leader. He's me on the floor."
Munoz and Hamilton both had 13 points against Estill while Jaquan Jones and Heyward tallied 12 apiece and Justin Harris scored 10.
In other opening day action of the tournament, Beaufort topped Manning, 63-53. The Eagles will play the winner of the Burke, a 68-38 winner over Bethune-Bowman. The Patriots will play the winner of the Timberland, a 49-38 winner over Baptist Hill game in the other semifinal.
Estill 1 7 2 8-18
Fort Dorchester 32 22 22 18-94
Estill (18): D. Elmore 11, Scott 2, Risher 5.
Fort Dorchester (94): Munoz 13, Hamilton 13, Reese 6, Jones 12, Snype 2, Heyward 12, Carter 8, Chisolm 2, Harris 10, Backman 8, McFadden 8.
Records: Estill 0-4; Fort Dorchester 7-0.