Now the real fun begins for the basketball teams for Sumter, Crestwood and Lakewood high schools.
While local South Carolina High School League schools Manning, Lee Central, East Clarendon and Scott's Branch have already began their region …
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While local South Carolina High School League schools Manning, Lee Central, East Clarendon and Scott's Branch have already began their region schedules, the Sumter School District schools join in the fray on Tuesday.
The SCHSL playoffs are solely determined on how teams perform in their region matchups, making the next few weeks the most critical part of the season.
The Sumter teams will play host to Lugoff-Elgin in their Region IV-5A openers. Crestwood will travel to Columbia to face A.C. Flora, while Lakewood will be at home against Orangeburg-Wilkinson in their Region IV-4A openers
The Crestwood boys will be going up against and A.C. Flora squad that is ranked fifth in 4A by the South Carolina Basketball Coaches Association poll. The Lady Knights are seventh. The Lakewood girls will take on an O-W squad that is ranked sixth.
Here are a few other local storylines to keep an eye on this week:
- East Clarendon High School sophomore standout Talaysia Cooper is just 14 points shy of 2,000 career points. She'll aim to surpass that number on Tuesday when the Lady Wolverines host Kingstree. East Clarendon is 4-0 in Region VII-2A behind Cooper's scoring and the inside duo of seniors Rhamey Floyd and Valencia Garris. Cooper scored 35 points in back-to-back games against Carvers Bay and Hannah-Pamplico earlier this month, notching a triple-double against Carvers Bay with 35 points, 14 rebounds, and 10 steals. The Lady Wolverines are 12-3 on the season, and enter region play as the top-ranked 2A girls team.
- Sumter High School's varsity girls basketball team enters region play as the fifth-ranked 5A team with a 12-2 overall record. The Lady Gamecocks are ranked just behind region foe Irmo, which is third. Sumter will host Irmo on Jan. 28 and then end the regular season on the road against Irmo on Feb. 14. The Lady Gamecocks have won eight of their last nine contests.
- Manning's girls basketball team is ranked second overall in 3A. The Lady Monarchs are 11-3 on the season, and opened region play with a 58-18 bashing of Academic Magnet on Friday.
- Lee Central High School's girls and boys basketball teams are among the favorites to win their respective regions this year. The boys team has been dominant this season, led by junior guard DaVeon Thomas and sophomore guard LeBron Thomas. The Stallions are 14-2 overall and already 3-0 in Region IV-2A and are ranked second in the state. The Lady Stallions are 8-4 overall and 3-0 in region play and are ranked third in the state.
- The Scott's Branch Lady Eagles are still the No. 1 1A team in the state, while the boys team ranks fifth.
The Lady Eagles finished undefeated in Region V-1A on their way to a state championship last season, and are currently 7-3 overall after a 71-20 victory over Bethune-Bowman last week.
Meanwhile, freshman guard Randy Gibson has led the boys team to 9-5 start to the season.
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