High school basketball championship games filled with Midlands teams

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11 Midlands teams playing in championship games this weekend.

It’s the Upper and Lower State championships this weekend in high school basketball. And eleven teams from the Midlands area will try to punch their ticket to Colonial Life Arena for the Weekend of Champions next month. From familiar teams, to programs making history, this weekend will have plenty of story lines. Upper state title games will take place tonight and tomorrow in Greenville while Florence will host the Lower state.

Bengals back for redemption
The Blythewood Bengals have one goal in mind. To get back into the state title game and avenge last years loss. With some key returning players from that team, the Bengals seem to be more versatile as an offense, and more mature overall as a team heading into the weekend. The 96 points scored back in the 2nd round just shows how dynamic this squad has become. A lot of folks, including myself think that Blythewood is primed to return to the state title game next weekend and face Dorman, which would be a rematch of last year. Dorman would win that game, but they lost 4 starters. Keep an eye on that potential rematch.

Gray Collegiate vs Keenan
In the 2A Upper State title game, its a clash of region foes. These teams are facing each other for the 7th time in the last two years. Gray holds a 5-1 advantage with the only loss coming in this very spot last year, the 2A title game. This Gray team seems destined for a title in 2018 as they have mowed down the competition all year long. Backed by a star prospect in Juwan Gary, the War Eagles do it all from shooting the three, to playing physcial and defending at a very high level. As for Keenan, you never put anything past Coach Zach Norris, but this team is still young. Still, this game is always a fun one as the rivalry has grown each year since Gray became a program a few years ago.

Westwood and Swansea girls making history.
In 4A the Westwood girls are playing for an upper state title for the first time since becoming a school back in 2011-2012. Led by guard Unique Drake, the second seeded Lady Redhawks are playing North Augusta. This is a rematch of last years 2nd round game in which the Lady Yellow Jackets won by double digits. The 23 wins are also a school record.
As for the Swansea Lady Tigers, they are in this spot for the first time in some 23 years. Swansea finished with a record of 19-8 and 9-1 in region play. Success however is nothing new, the Lady Tigers actually won 21 games last season before losing in the second round behind Coach Tamara Mcneal-Perdue, who has been there since 2010.

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Welcome back Ridge View
The upstart Blazers of Ridge View return to the upper state title game. Last time the Blazers made it this deep was 2011. I have always thought that Ridge View was one of the more overlooked basketball programs in the Midlands. They may not have the titles these other teams do, but they always seem to be a tough out, and play really well at this point in the season. Whether it was John Combs at the helm, or now Yerrick Stoneman, RV has always been well coached. Ridge View is a dangerous team too, because of their balanced scoring. They get contributions from Wayln Napper, big center Malcolm Wilson, Javon Anderson and Crosby James each night.

AC Flora is back
The Falcons of AC Flora are back. And they are doing it without one of their star players. Big man Diamante Brown (suspension) has been out of the lineup the last few games including the first round of the postseason. Guys like Patrick Ariel and Dewey Green have done well in his absence. I saw this falcon team vs Lugoff-Elgin in the first round and they are so balanced. They are deep at guard, and play smart with the basketball. Flora is also well coached by Joshua Staley. The last time the Falcons made it this far was just a few years ago in 2016 when they won it all defeating Midland Valley.

Top two in the state
Spring Valley girls ranked #1 will play #2 Goose Creek in the lower state 4A game. The Lady Vikings and Lady Gators have a combined record of 49-4 this season. Between the two programs they have nine title games amongst them over the last 10 years or so. I’ve seen this Spring Valley team and Megan Assey has done a great job since taking over for a future Hall of Famer in Anne Long. Curious to see which dominant program prevails in this one.

FULL SCHEDULE—
High School Basketball

Upper State Championships

At Bon Secours Wellness Center

Friday

Class A Girls

Timmonsville vs. McCormick, 4 p.m.

Class A Boys

Lewisville vs. Ridge-Spring Monetta, 5:30 p.m.

Class 4A Girls

Westwood vs. North Augusta, 7 p.m.

Class 4A Boys

Ridge View vs. South Aiken, 8:30 p.m.

Saturday

Class 2A Girls

Keenan vs. Christ Church, 11 a.m.

Class 2A Boys

Gray Collegiate vs. Keenan, 12:30 p.m.

Class 3A Girls

Newberry vs. Seneca, 2 p.m.

Class 3A Boys

Southside vs. Walhalla, 3:30 p.m.

Class 5A Girls

Woodmont vs. Wade Hampton (G), 5 p.m.

Class 5A Boys

Wade Hampton (G) vs. Dorman, 6:30 p.m.

 

At Florence Civic Center

Friday

Class A Girls

East Clarendon vs. Scott’s Branch, 4 p.m.

Class A

Hemingway vs. C.E. Murray, 5:30 p.m.

Class 4A Girls

Wilson vs. Myrtle Beach, 7 p.m

Class 4A Boys

A.C. Flora vs. Wilson, 8:30 p.m.

Saturday

Class 2A Girls

Marion vs. Mullins, 11 a.m.

Class 2A Boys

Marion vs. Carvers Bay, 12:30 p.m.

Class 3A Girls

Swansea vs. Ridgeland-Hardeeville, 2 p.m.

Class 3A Boys

Ridgeland-Hardeeville vs. Wade Hampton (H), 3:30 p.m.

Class 5A Girls

Spring Valley vs. Goose Creek, 5 p.m.

Class 5A Boys

Blythewood vs. Irmo, 6:30 p.m.

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