Ready or not, region play is on the horizon for Lowcountry basketball squads.
Longtime Timberland High School boys basketball coach Jerome Stewart figures his team is somewhere in between ready and not. The Wolves have run up against a tough schedule to this point. They’ve played better of late, though, after starting off 0-5.
“We’d like to be a little better healthwise,” Stewart said after a recent non-region clash. “We’ve still got two players out with high-ankle sprains. One of those is our sixth man off the bench. And we’ve still got football players still getting their legs back.”
Timberland has dropped four games by five points or less, setbacks that can be traced back to inefficiency from the supposed easiest places to score from.
“We’re missing too many layups and we’re not great from the free-throw line right now,” Stewart said. “When you play a grind-it-out, ugly type of ballgame, you’ve got make those. There are some small fundamental parts of the game we’ve got to get cleaned up.”
The Wolves (4-10) split a pair of matchups in the inaugural Tint Farm Tip-off Showcase at Hanahan High School over the weekend, edging Airport (37-27) on Friday before falling to Chapman (58-44) on Saturday.
In both cases, the Wolves got after it on the defensive end of the floor, as usual, but needed more transition buckets to show for their effort.
Jaleen Richardson had 18 points in the loss to Chapman and Keshaun Rivers added 10 points. Lyric Evans chipped in seven for the Wolves.
Rivers led with nine points in the win over Airport.
In the non-region slate, the Wolves have managed to avenge a pair of their early-season losses to county rivals. Berkeley coasted past Timberland by 21 points on Dec. 4 in St. Stephen but the Wolves returned the favor, 42-41, in Moncks Corner less than two weeks later.
Cross edged Timberland by four points on Dec. 6, answered by the Wolves on Dec. 20 in a big way, 54-33.
“Our teams share athletes,” Stewart said. “Not all of our guys are playing basketball year ‘round. Half of my basketball players on varsity and junior varsity are football players. Those kids can’t just go to another sport and be ready. It takes until January for guys to get their basketball legs from football season. The biggest difference between us in those early games and now is we only had two practices with our whole team early on.”
Timberland hosts Class 5A-ranked Ashley Ridge on Jan. 7 (after press time) before traveling to Oceanside Collegiate on Jan. 10 to kick off the region portion of the schedule.
The Wolves follow with a road trip to North Charleston on Jan. 14 and host Burke on Jan. 21. They end the first trip through the region slate with a road game at Philip Simmons on Jan. 23.
Stewart believes the Wolves can be a tough out for anybody in the region if they play the way they’re capable.
“It’s all about culture,” Stewart said. “We still preach culture. We’re not worried about the scoreboard. That takes care of itself. We’re still going to do the tough things to try and win ballgames.”