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BASKETBALL: Gators unbeaten as playoffs begin

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Demetri Simmons

Goose Creek’s Demetri Simmons goes in for a layup against the Stratford Knights. The scoreboard in the background speaks to the Gators’ dominance in region play.

The Goose Creek Gators have an unblemished record as the sun comes up on the Class 5A boys basketball playoffs on Feb. 23.

The 11-0 Gators host Conway High School in the opening round at 7 p.m. Goose Creek won its six Region 7-AAAAA games by an average of 43.5 points on the way to the region crown.

“I think they’re in a good spot,” GCHS coach Blake Hall said. “We’re healthy and the kids have confidence. A lot of guys have gotten court time this season because the types of games we’ve had. As tournament time comes around, you want to see how you fare against better teams. We’re eager to get started.”

It’s a chance at revenge for Goose Creek, which saw last season come to an end on the road at the hands of the Tigers, 41-40, in the third round. Conway, the Region 6 runner-up, brings an 8-6 mark into the postseason.

“Conway has some very good players,” Hall said. “They’ll be the best team we’ve played so far. Hopefully we’ll be ready to go.”

The winner advances to tangle with Region 5-AAAAA champion Dutch Fork or Region 8 runner-up West Ashley on Friday, Feb. 26. The Gators would host the second-round and Lower State final on March 2.

The state championship is set for 7:30 p.m., on March 6 at USC Aiken.

The Gators finished up the regular season with a 60-18 victory at Wando High School on Feb. 15. Justin Britt led three Gators in double figures with 13 points in the 60-18 victory.

Demetri Simmons and Yaturi Bolton chipped in 11 and 10 respectively for the Gators. Tykelvion Thompson added nine points.

Berkeley girls in playoffs

The Berkeley High School girls basketball team is back in the Class 5A playoffs and looking to see if it can assemble another playoff run.

Last season, the Stags won a postseason game for the first time since 2007-08 and ended up going all the way to the third round for the first time since 2001.

Berkeley was one of two teams from Region 7-AAAAA to advance. Wando was the region champion.

The Stags enter the postseason with a 6-4 overall mark and was 3-3 in region play, losing twice to Wando. They travel to Region 6-AAAAA champion Sumter High School on Feb. 22 (after press time) and would take on Region 8-AAAAA champion Summerville High School or Dutch Fork High School on Feb. 25.

Cane Bay’s boys break through

The Cane Bay High School boys basketball team broke through for its lone victory of the season on Feb. 17 at CBHS, besting Berkeley 69-52 on the team’s senior night for interim coach Fanontae Hanna.

The Cobras jumped out to a 23-12 lead after a quarter and gradually pulled away.

Christian Smith led the Cobras with 16 points while Rob McLeod added 15 points. Xavier Adams and Jordyn McKeen chipped in 11 points apiece.

Cavaliers roll

Three St. John’s Christian players reached season highs in points and the Cavaliers rolled past Mead Hall in the opening round of the SCISA Class A state basketball tournament, 86-40, on Saturday.

The win was the 10th straight for SJCA, which tangles with Conway Christian at 4 p.m., on Feb. 23 at Orangeburg Prep in the second round.

SJCA seniors Nai’Ryan Bookert and Josh Legnard led the way with 20 points apiece. Freshman center Brock Ray reached a season-high in points and rebounds with 14 and 15 while sophomore Wallace Hester chipped in a season-high 14 points. Senior guard Corey Moraux dished out 11 assists.

The SJCA girls won their playoff opener on Feb. 19, edging Charleston Collegiate 39-23. They take on top seed Newberry Academy on Feb. 22 (after press time).