Lowcountry basketball action is heating up as teams battle for region championships over the next few weeks.
Early indications are that the most interesting race to watch will be the Region 7-AAAA boys’ chase, which will include James Island, West Ashley and Goose Creek. All three teams entered play on Jan. 19 with 2-0 region records and they will play each other head to head over the next week.
Goose Creek visits West Ashley on Friday night, and James Island visits West Ashley on Jan. 26. All three teams have reached double digits in victories already this season.
In this week’s updated Lowcountry top 10 rankings, West Ashley is ranked third, followed by Goose Creek at No. 5 and James Island at No. 6.
Porter-Gaud continues as the area’s top-ranked team, despite last week’s loss to defending SCISA state champion Hammond. Summerville is ranked second while Timberland maintains a top five position at No. 4.
Rounding out the top 10 are Fort Dorchester at No. 7, followed by Burke, Northwood Academy and Berkeley.
In the girls’ top 10, Goose Creek, Northwood and Bishop England are ranked in the top three spots, followed by Wando and West Ashley. Ashley Ridge moves to sixth, followed by Hanahan, Berkeley, Cross and Stall.
Stall fell out of the top five after suffering two region losses last week.
Underclassmen leading the way
When it comes to basketball talent in the Lowcountry, the underclassmen are far and away the top players this season. Two of the state’s top freshman boys are Porter-Gaud forward Josiah James and Northwood forward Jamal Edmonson.
Porter-Gaud’s leading scorer is sophomore wing Aaron Nesmith, and Northwood freshman post player Devin Ramsey is a solid big man prospect.
Pinewood Prep has a pair of prospects in 6-6 junior Michael Wright and 6-6 sophomore Jalen Slawson. West Ashley coach Ronnie Dupre has a host of underclassmen seeing the most playing time, led by sophomore wing Shelton Brown.
James Island junior guard Vince Cole is among the top shooters in the area while teammates Maurice Hardiman (post) and Jordan McDaniel (guard) are juniors as well. Burke’s defending state championship squad is led by junior guards Isaiah Holloway and Sidney Sanders.
On the girls’ side, Goose Creek’s top performers are underclassmen, led by junior point guard Mariah Linney. The Gators also have one of the state’s top freshman forwards in Shayla Nelson.
Northwood Academy freshman Angel Middleton is a 6-4 prospect in the post. Teammate Elysa Wesolek, a sophomore forward, also shows college potential. West Ashley sophomore guard Haliyah Sumter is one of the area’s leading scorers.
Ashley Ridge sophomore forward Shamaria Myers is among the top scorers and rebounders in the area and Summerville point guard Aniyah Oliver, an eighth-grader, is one to watch.
As a reminder, this is only a small sample of the area’s top underclassmen.
Wando High volleyball coach Alexis Glover recently was named the national co-coach of the year by prepsvolleyball.com.
Glover guided Wando to a second consecutive Class AAAA state title in 2015 in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the program. Wando, which defeated Dorman in the AAAA finals, did not lose a match after Sept. 26.
Glover, already the state’s winningest coach, will reach 900 career wins early in the 2016 season. She shared the award with Jean Kesterson of Indianapolis Cathedral High.
Ashley Ridge linebacker Brandon Brown announced via Twitter his verbal commitment to play football at Presbyterian College next fall.
Brown, a first-team all-Lowcountry selection in 2015, was a three-year starter for the Swamp Foxes and finished his career with more than 300 tackles. Brown played in the North-South All-Star Game in December.
Another first-team all-Lowcountry pick — Cross offensive lineman Malcolm Garrett — committed to South Carolina State over the weekend. Garrett was a four-year starter at Cross and also played in the North-South Game.