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Jaguars begin quest for Class AAA boys state crown

  • Anthony Garzilli/Jasper County Sun Times Rashamel Butler, RHHS’s point guard, is part of a deep Jaguars team that began the season ranked No. 2 in the state by the S.C. Basketball Coaches Association.
  • Anthony Garzilli/Jasper County Sun Times Coach Jeremiah Faber thinks the Jaguars season will be led by its defense. “Whatever success we are going to have is because of our defense, it is the cornerstone to our success,” he said.
  • Anthony Garzilli/Jasper County Sun Times Myles Pinckney gives RHHS a presence in the post.

Jeremiah Faber often talks about his continued thirst and hunger to win a state championship. He’s in his 33rd season coaching the Jaguars, but has yet to win a boys basketball title.

“Still trying to find the right ingredients,” said Faber, who has 518 career wins.

He hopes to satisfy his hunger this season and coach his team to a SCHSL Class AAA state crown on the strength of a deep and versatile roster.

The Jaguars, who began the season 2-o and ranked No. 2 in the state by the S.C. Basketball Coaches Association, start the season with 17 players, including a projected starting lineup of Rashamel Butler (PG), Diamonte Robinson (SG), Devin Butler (SF), Jabari Williams (PF) and Myles Pinckney and William Westbrook splitting time at center.

But Faber likes the potential of the team’s depth, which includes seven newcomers.

He said Jetraveon Smalls, Dequandre Hamilton and Sameel Ford help fuel the Jaguars’ pressure defense.

“Those kids really understand their role,” Faber said. “They get out on the break and get easy baskets.”

The roster also includes Ronald Zimmerman, Amir Wilson, Da’Monta Pusha, Emanuelle Hargrove, Marlon Harley, Tyric Smith, Amee Parker and Derald Nelson Jr.

Faber said this is one of his most athletic teams and he’s pleased that they work well together.

“We have a lot of interchangeable parts,” he said. “They have great camaraderie with each other and have very strong relationships with each other.”

Faber wasn’t pleased with his team during preseason scrimmages. In fact, he said it took poor showings against Hilton Head and Johnson high schools for the team to understand they needed to work harder.

Things clicked against Richmond Hill and South Effingham at the Windsor Forest Showcase as RHHS won two games.

The Jaguars beat Richmond Hill 65-52 as Robinson had 12 points, six steals and two blocks. Williams added 14 points, Westbrook scored 10 points and Rashamel Butler added eight points, four rebounds and nine assists.

Rashamel Butler led RHHS to a 75-45 win over South Effingham by scoring 28 points and adding four rebounds, five assists and three steals. Devin Butler added 11 points, three assists and two steals; Smalls scored 10 points and had four steals and Robinson scored nine points, had three assists and three steals.

Faber said the offense went from an F during scrimmages to a C+ at the tournament. He praised the defense.

“I was so happy with our defense and our rebounding,” Faber said. “We contested shots, we closed out, we talked and helped each other.”

Faber said the improvement stemmed from the team’s willingness to work hard in practice.

“I told them, ‘You gotta bring your hard hat because we are building something constructive,’ ” Faber said. “We stretch hard, drill hard, think hard. We are building something unique. The mindset is that we are working.”

Faber expects the returning players to perform well, including Rashamel, Devin Butler and Robinson, and he’s excited about Pinckney’s inside presence.

“Myles is tough. He gets on the boards and defends.”

RHHS, which hosts Colleton County on Friday, might not have an elite outside shooter, but Faber believes the team will score with a balanced attack.

“We have to score by committee,” he said. “Whatever we do we have to do as a group and trust each other.”

As usual under Faber, the Jaguars’ success will be spurred by its pressure defense. Last season the Jaguars allowed 61.2 points per game and yielded 57.8 points per game in 2016. During RHHS’s run to the Class AA state final in 2015, the team allowed 53.9 points per game.

“Whatever success we are going to have is because of our defense, it is the cornerstone to our success,” he said.

Depth, offensive balance and a stingy defense might be enough to propel RHHS on a run to a title.

“It’s a recipe for a big season,” Faber said.

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