Editorial: Let’s support chase for state basketball championships
It’s not often we see something that has us thinking about it hours and even days later, but we knew the moment couldn’t be enjoyed only by the hundreds who recently packed Ridgeland-Hardeeville High School’s gym to watch the Jaguars take on Estill in a rivalry basketball contest.
No, the moment needed to be relayed to the entire county; not only because of its spectacular grace, but because it was a reminder that a championship season is brewing in our county. And there might be more than one title to be celebrated.
Early in the fourth quarter of the Jaguars boys team’s defeat of Estill, RHHS junior Rashamel Butler drove hard on the right baseline toward the basket.
The 6-foot-3 guard jumped and then hung in the air as defenders zoomed past. With his right hand holding the ball high, Butler continued in the air toward the other side of the rim and spun the ball off the backboard for a breathless did-you-see that reverse layup.
The crowd went crazy and the Jaguars were on their way to another win. The play, one of the best we’ve seen from a county player, showcased Butler’s skills and reinforced our belief that the Jaguars are primed to make a serious run at a South Carolina High School League Class AAA state title.
There’s reason to be optimistic. The Jaguars are 19-1, and at home Thursday can clinch their fifth consecutive region championship. They have an aggressive defense and deep bench. They ended last week ranked No. 1 in the South Carolina Coaches Association Class AAA poll.
They are the favorites to win it all.
Yes, we’ve had this feeling before. In 2015, coach Jeremiah Faber’s team rode a 23-game winning streak to the Class AA state final before losing to Keenan. It was a disheartening defeat. We hope this season’s team can get to Columbia March 3 and win the title, which would be the first for Faber in his 33 seasons as coach.
The first step is Tuesday, Feb. 13, when the state playoffs begin.
Ridgeland-Hardeeville High’s boys deserve the accolades, but the girls are also state contenders. The team is 13-3 and has clinched its fourth straight region crown. The Jaguars are ranked No. 3 in the state and coach Frederick Toomer’s teams are always serious threats to reach the state final. Last season his team advanced to the Lower State final.
The girls begin their playoff push Monday, Feb. 12.
We are also paying close attention to Thomas Heyward Academy and John Paul II Catholic School’s teams. Thomas Heyward’s boys and girls began the week vying for SCISA Class AA playoff contention and John Paul II’s teams have enjoyed breakthrough seasons.
The Golden Warrior girls began the week second in the region standings and the boys were in the mix for a playoff spot.
SCISA’s playoffs begin Feb. 16.
The county’s been fortunate in recent years to have strong basketball teams. The gyms have been jammed as the community’s joined together to root for our home towns.
Let’s keep up the support.