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Basketball and wrestling down to the wire

While the weather broke long enough for decent weather on Tuesday for Terry Markovcic’s Lady Gamecock soccer team to open its schedule (something I forgot to get in last week’s paper -- sorry girls), last week’s plummeting temperatures left no doubt that winter is still here lurking somewhere around the corner.

With winter still in full force, the indoor sports at SCHS are quickly coming down to the wire. Tomorrow the first-ever Class AA state wrestling sectionals will begin at JeffersonHigh School in JacksonCounty. Though the grapplers had too many weight classes left open to be competitive in the 3AA duals tournament, they certainly held their own in the traditional tournament last Friday. 

Eight Roosters out of 11 participating came in at least fourth to qualify for the next level of state. If you have not paid attention Mike Ward’s troops include just the fourth repeat area champion in our better than 20 years in the sport. Senior Justin Crews, 140-pound champion after being champ at 130 a year ago, is poised to put his stamp on the SCHS wrestling record book.

At 98-46 on his career, Crews stands a great chance to join an elite group of wrestlers with 100 or more wins. That group features Zane Powell (152), James Crews (122), Omer Lariscy (107), Matthew Sheley (107), Brad Waters (102), and Griffen Greene and Dusty Reddick (100 each). Not only can he join the club, he stands to possibly pass three of its members. His best state-wide finish is his sixth place a year ago.

Not far behind is another senior in Charles Kilpatrick. Claiming a runner-up spot at 152 after being champion a year ago, Kilpatrick equaled the highest statewide finish ever last February with his third place medal. With 91 wins in his career, he probably lost his chance at 100 when a car accident caused him to miss one tournament and a weight problem costing him another.

Roy Cooper’s Lady Gamecocks finished the regular season as the No. 2 seed from our side. However, they went undefeated against the other side, beating their champion DodgeCounty by 12 and their runner-up Vidalia by 15. Both were ranked in the top three when the Red and White took them down. If they continue their tenacious play, the girls could well play Laney for the region title Feb. 21. Win or lose that contest, SCHS would host a state playoff game Feb. 27.

When Jennifer Acree turned this girls basketball program around six years ago, it was amazing. When she left, I worried. She was the old tough-as-nails in your face coach and here came my old classmate Roy Cooper, mild-mannered, quiet-spoken and always the gentleman -- could he follow? He certainly has, in a lot of ways I think the girls play a better caliber of ball now than they did three years ago. 

Going for win No. 18 Friday night on Senior Night, the Lady Gamecocks have a chance for their fourth consecutive 20-win season. Prior to this streak, there had been just one 20-win season ever. If they beat Dublin next Thursday, a team they defeated 73-44 on Jan. 31, they will lock up their sixth consecutive trip to state. Prior to this streak, they had been twice.

Brent Anderson’s Gamecocks entered the season under the shadow of a missing coach and a huge graduated senior class. For the most part the starting lineup played understudy roles a year ago as the most athletic team at SCHS in 20 years absolutely underachieved.  Considering the youth (only two seniors) and lack of depth on Anderson’s roster, this team cannot be accused of underachieving. With an early record of 8-4 that included one-point and three-point losses, folks got on their bandwagon quickly. 

Though they have slumped down the stretch against the rigors of three region games per week, they are a team that no one wants to play next week. If any one of their talented shooters gets hot, they can hurt the feelings of some big-time teams in the region tournament. 

Look out.

           

Burton Kemp Jr. is a contributing writer to the Sylvania Telephone.