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Friday’s Region Rivalry Games Bring a Feeling of Normalcy During the Most Abnormal Season

Thursday, January 14, 2021



Kedar Bodie – Butler

Friday night will mark the first time this season that the high school hoops schedule will in a certain way resemble a non-pandemic Friday in January. I say that because I can spot at least three matchups between local rivals in which the leadership at or near the top of their regions’ standings will be on the line. Because of the cancellations that have laced the January slate before this weekend, most region races have barely even gotten a chance to begin. So when Tuesday’s results made it clear that Friday’s Butler-Laney doubleheader and the rematch (of South Aiken’s win over North Augusta Tuesday) between North Augusta and South Aiken’s boys would give the teams involved the chance to take an upper hand in their respective races, I felt a touch of normalcy visiting us, which I am very grateful for during this anything-but-normal, pandemic influenced season. Here’s a quick breakdown of the rivalry games we will be keeping our eyes and cameras on Friday night:

Butler (5-3, 3-0) at Laney (4-2, 3-0)

Class 2A, Region 4 – Girls

Alteona Collier – Laney

Some people think Laney, winner of three state titles since 2015, will experience a down season. But Eboni FieldsButler’s second year head coach, who starred at Laney before becoming a standout guard for both Francis Marion and the Georgia Soul, our area’s professional women’s team, knows better than to overlook the mighty Wildcats.”Laney is playing better,” Fields told me Tuesday in a text after Butler’s 36-21 win over Putnam County, the fifth straight victory for the Bulldogs. “They started the season off slow, but you can never count them out.”
A slow start for Laney means two losses in the pre-region portion of their schedule. Both of those stumbles came at home, the first against Washington County, class 2A’s #3 ranked team according to The second loss was suffered against Cross Creek, class 3A’s #5 ranked squad. The loss to the Razorbacks was Laney’s first against a Richmond County opponent since 2005, according to Charles McNeil, the voice of the Wildcats for Perry Broadcasting.
Coach Fields, who graduated from Laney in 2006, was in uniform for the Lady Wildcats’ famous head coach Otis Smart the last time Laney lost a *region game* against a Richmond County opponent. She shared what she believes it will take for that nearly forgotten history to repeat itself Friday night.
“Our defense is going to be the key Friday,” Fields shared. “Also controlling the boards and containing Laney’s guards!”
Look to the play of Laney’s Alteona Collier and Butler’s Jayla Thomas to find out which team will win the battle on the boards Fields cited. Thomas scored 20 points to lead the Lady Bulldogs to a 43-40 win over then #6 Josey last week, the first of two impressive victories for Butler in the last 10 days. As Fields noted, Butler will have its hands full with Laney’s Santanna Dennis and Kiara Turner. Dennis, a junior, has been a solid contributor since her freshman season, and Turner, who scored 24 points in Tuesday’s 62-58 win over Josey, appears to be one of the next Lady Wildcats in a long line of dynamic guards for coach Smart.

Butler (4-3, 2-0) at Laney (5-3, 3-1)

Class 2A, Region 4 – Boys

Matt Jones – Laney

Both of these teams are loaded with talent, and both have the potential to make a deep run in the post season. Also, both teams need a game like Friday’s to continue to build chemistry and grow as a unit after they have had very few opportunities to take the floor this season because of the stop and start nature of basketball activities in the current public health environment. Finally, both teams need a win Friday to keep up with Westside, which also stands 3-0 in league play.

Players to watch:

Laney –

Matt Jones – 6’7″ senior

DJ Collins – 6’0″ senior

Quan Collier – 6’2″ senior

James Nipper – 6’3″ junior

Jordan Stringer – 6’2″ senior

Butler –

Zabriel Boozer – 6’8″ senior

Kedar Bodie – 6’4″ junior

Trayveyon Perry – 6’5″ senior

Ronnie Striggles – 5’10” senior

Trayveyon Perry – Butler

South Aiken (3-2, 1-0) at North Augusta (3-5, 0-1)

(South Carolina) Class 4A, Region 5 – Boys

Honestly, I didn’t see coming Tuesday’s result, which saw South Aiken topping the two time defending region champ North Augusta. North Augusta features one of the top five players in the area in Colin Rodrigues, an electric athlete, a hard nosed competitor and a future college player. And junior Yellow Jacket Austin Harrell has had an exceptional season shooting and scoring through eight games.

Austin Harrell – North Augusta

But the Thoroughbreds demanded to be noticed Tuesday by knocking off the Yellow Jackets 65-51 behind 31 points by Donavan Hodge and 13 from Jonathan Burns. If South Aiken can complete the week’s sweep on enemy grounds, it will be in the driver’s seat despite the fact that they will have played only two games, because the entire slate is only eight games long in this five team region.

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CSRA Sports Wrap Podcast – Episode 2

Because its regular season just ended, this week’s show is heavily focused on the high school scene, with an equal focus on both the area’s boys and girls side



Because its regular season just ended, this week’s show is heavily focused on the high school scene, with an equal focus on both the area’s boys and girls side.

CSRA Sports Wrap Podcast – Episode 2

***Special Note: Starting at the 24:30 mark in the video above, Chad explained his understanding for why Evans didn’t play Milton Friday. After seeing the episode, Evans head coach and athletic director Kevin Kenny contacted us and asked to be interviewed so he could correct the record and give his first hand account of why the region tournament for the area’s class 6A region was canceled, and for why the game against Milton didn’t happen. Here is the interview with Coach Kenny, a direct response to the 30 second explanation Chad gave starting at the 24:30 mark of episode 2 (above).***

Evans Head Coach and Athletic Director Kevin Kenny’s Response to Episode 2

Show Notes – Episode 2

Segment 1 – A tour through the regular season

0:00 – 4:15

The impact of the virus on the high school season, using North Augusta’s boys as an example

4:30 – 6:35

Chad’s Fantastic Five (plus a 6th man) freshmen

6:35 – 8:15

Describing and showing of the most eye catching individual highlights of the season

Girls Basketball in Focus…

8:15 – 11:50

Focusing on girls basketball, Charles describes what it has been like to see Laney take a step back and watch Cross Creek, Butler and Josey all take down the Lady Wildcats and assert themselves as forces to be reckoned with.

11:50 – 18:30

More about local girls basketball…

Chad weighs in on the changing of the guard on the girls side and Jordyn Dorsey’s excellence on the court AND in the classroom is highlighted as we hear from Jordyn herself.

But before we hear from Jordyn we take a tour through pretty much the entire area when it come to girls hoops. Finally, we hear from Jordyn at about the 18:00 mark.

***The CSRA Sports Wrap Podcast is also available in an audio only format. Here is the SoundCloud version of Episode 2:***

***And here is the SoundCloud audio version of Coach Kenny’s response to Episode 2***

Segment 2 – Court Side Seats

Focusing on recent thrillers we witnessed:

– Butler vs Laney (Doubleheader)

– Wheeler vs Kell

– Augusta Christian vs Ben Lippen

– Butler vs Westside

– Fox Creek vs Strom Thurmond***

18:30 – 20:15

Butler vs Laney (girls)

20:15 – 21:30

Butler vs Laney (boys)

21:30 – 23:30

Chad talks about Butler’s stacked roster and its dominant final week of the regular season, with blowout wins over Laney and Westside.

23:30 – 24:15

And we finish the Butler talk by showing the bucket Brionna Sims (of the Lady Bulldogs) scored Friday to eclipse the 1,000 point barrier, as well as the celebration that followed.

24:30 – 25:15

What happened to Evans vs Milton?

25:15 – 27:30

Class 6A Showdown

#1 Wheeler vs #2 Kell

Scoota Henderson – The next Sharife Cooper, Ant-Man Edwards, Collin Sexton

Wheeler – The defending Class 7A state champion

27:30 – 32:00

Augusta Christian vs Ben Lippen

Augusta Christian’s January surge and a rundown of its key players.

Is freshman Elijah Crawford the best player in the South Carolina Independent School Association (SCISA), which is the high school home of Zion Williamson?

32:00 – 33:30

About Elijah Crawford’s progression throughout the years and his work with trainer Darrin Shine. Can Elijah Crawford (a freshman) one day become a the kind of player Scoota Henderson (a junior) is?

33:30 – 35:35

Butler vs Westside – For the Class 2A regular season region championship

Charles talks about a favorite player of his, senior point guard Ronnie Striggles.

35:35 – 37:25

Fox Creek vs Strom Thurmond

***Segment 3 – Augusta University Basketball Update***

37:25 – 40:20

Augusta University vs Flagler Doubleheader

The Lady Jaguars improved to 4-1 in PBC play

40:20 – 42:40

We hear from men’s head coach Dip Metress, who explains why his team, even though it has been severely impacted by the loss of 5 players for the rest of the season, will not be “opting out.”

43:30 – 47:00

Previewing next week’s show

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