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State-ranked Jaguars continue hot streak

Subheadline: 
RHHS (7-0) winning close contests

  • Janine Wilson/Special to Jasper County Sun Times Rashamel Butler drives to the hoop during the Jaguars’ 56-55 home win last week over Lake Marion.
  • Janine Wilson/Special to Jasper County Sun Times William Westrbrook launches a jumper in RHHS’s win at Woodland.

The No. 2 boys basketball team in the state is not quite at a championship level.

Ridgeland-Hardeeville began the week 7-0 and ranked second in Class AAA in the S.C. Basketball Coaches Association polls, but coach Jeremiah Faber thinks the team hasn’t hit its stride.

Despite the hot start start, Faber said the Jaguars have played some sloppy games —including recent wins at Woodland and home against Lake Marion —and he’s hoping the practice time before January will help refine the team’s game.

“I know we are not where we need to be offensively or defensively,” said Faber, following RHHS’s 56-55 win Dec. 12 against Lake Marion.

But the team continues to win. Last week RHHS won two games, including beating visiting Woodland last Saturday 63-47. Rashamel Butler had 16 points.

The comeback win against Lake Marion Dec. 12 was similar to the team’s 66-62 win Dec. 8 at Woodland, Faber said. The Jaguars took an early lead but allowed Woodland to come back and RHHS had to make plays at the end to hold on.

Against Lake Marion, the Jaguars led 19-6 in the first quarter, but Lake Marion cut the deficit to 30-27 at halftime and led 45-43 after three quarters.

RHHS rallied when Devin Butler hit a 3-pointer with 51.4 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter and — after the Jaguars forced a turnover on a five-second violation on the ensuing inbound attempt — Diamonte Robinson’s layup tied the game 54-54.

Rashamel Butler’s driving layup with 7.4 seconds remaining in the game gave RHHS a 56-54 lead.

“We were fortunate to come away with the win,” Faber said.

But Faber likes his team’s grit. He knows the Jaguars are talented, but even though the team’s struggled they’ve managed to prevail in close games.

“We do have some heart, some fighters,” he said. “It’s just a matter of time before we put it all together.”

Faber plans to work on his substitution patterns in an attempt to prevent opponents from rallying.

Early in games he usually substitutes two or three players at once, often to get defensive specialists Sameel Ford (1.0 steal per game) and Jertaveon Smalls (2.0 SPG) into the game, but the Jaguars’ offense then suffers.

Rashamel Butler leads the team in scoring (18.8 PPG), followed by Jabari Williams (10.6 PPG), Robinson (9.4 PPG) and Devin Butler (8.2 PPG).

“Maybe I’ll leave two guys in and that gives us more balance on offense,” Faber said.

RHHS is scheduled to compete in the Bluffton holiday tournament Dec. 28 before the season picks up with games at Lake Marion (Jan. 3) and Colleton County (Jan. 5) and home against Timberland (Jan. 6). The Region 8-AAA schedule begins Jan. 9 against visiting May River.

Faber is confident the team will improve because of its ability and off-court relationships. He said the camaraderie is good off the floor and expects the goodwill to continue on the court.

“The kids have great relationship off the floor, they look out for each other and pull for each other but that needs to carry onto the floor,” Faber said.

The Jaguars are a favorite to contend for a state crown, but Faber knows they are not yet playing like champions — and that might not be a bad thing considering they have 13 games scheduled in January and February before the playoffs.

“It could be a good thing that we are not peaking early,” he said.

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