A change at the top and a lot of new faces on the court has not slowed the Summerville girls basketball team’s effort to win a fifth consecutive Region 8-AAAA championship.
The Green Wave is under new leadership this season as former assistant Chris Digby takes over the helm. Digby replaced Matt Legare, who guided the program to 97 wins in five seasons and won four consecutive region titles. Summerville also entered this season with a 31-game winning streak against region competition.
Digby was Legare’s right-hand man for all five seasons so the transition to head coach was a smooth one. But Digby inherited a team void of experience and the coach admits he had plenty to learn about being the man who called the shots.
Summerville opened the season with a 1-4 record as coach and players learned under fire. Since the slow start, Summerville has won 11 of its last 12 games. Summerville has yet to lose a game in Region 8-AAAA, sporting a 5-0 record and extending the region streak to 36 games heading into Friday night’s game at Bluffton.
“We had a lot to learn in terms of playing together and I definitely was part of the slow start as well,” said Digby, a 1997 graduate of Summerville who was an offensive lineman in football. “The more we have played together, the more we improved. And I have adjusted and become more comfortable in my role also. We don’t always do everything right but this group competes well. It’s been fun to see them grow together.”
Senior forward Jordan Sprueill is the team’s top returning player and is having a solid season, averaging 11.3 points and 10.3 rebounds per game. Sprueill was the most experienced player coming into the season and has shouldered much of the load.
“She is our most veteran presence on the floor and it’s easy to see that in games,” said Digby, who earned a law degree then decided to become a teacher and coach. “We sort of put a lot on her early on in terms of asking her to be a leader and maybe it was too much. We finally just told her to be herself and she has responded. She’s our leader, and everyone knows that she is our leader, but she leads in a different way.”
Sprueill is the only player averaging in double figures, but eighth-grade point guard Aniyah Oliver has come alive offensively during region play and has raised her season scoring average to 9.1 points per game. Oliver also is averaging 3.9 assists and 2.3 steals per game.
“She has unlimited potential and has really played well since Christmas,” Digby said. “She’s been the difference for us really. She has great poise and plays with a maturity you don’t often see in an eighth-grader.”
Senior forward Jasmine Goodwine is averaging about six points and six rebounds per game while junior Meredith Harley, a Division I soccer prospect, is averaging 7.1 points per game. Seniors Shawn-terica Gibbs and Brittany Olean share the fifth starting spot.
Summerville will have two of their final three region games at home. The Green Wave hold a one-game lead over Ashley Ridge by virtue of a 63-54 win and the teams play again on Feb. 9 at Summerville. Summerville closes out the regular season with a home game against Fort Dorchester, which it beat 47-46 a few weeks ago.
Extending the region winning streak is still a goal, but only because it will mean winning the region championship.
“It’s very tight between us, Ashley Ridge and Fort Dorchester, so anything can happen,” Digby said. “We want to win the region and to do that, we can’t lose a game. So keeping the streak going means we win the region championship. That’s most important right now.”