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Surprises of the year

It’s the middle of January, and the high school basketball season is half way done, so let’s take a look at who have been the surprises of the year and who has given us what we have come to expect.

There are a few teams out there, who came out of the gate slow, but they are starting to pick up now and there are a few teams out there who came out strong and are faltering now.

The Dallas County Hornets got off to a rather slow start, but have come back and surprised a few people. They have managed to get their record back to the .500 mark, and are doing fairly well in area play. It’s been no big surprise that Clifford Lyons Jr. leads the team in scoring, and that Donovan Dixon has become a real leader on the floor. The Hornets have a good chance to surpass their win total from last year, and could give some team’s real trouble down the stretch. If they make it any further than the area tournament it would be a pretty big shock, but who knows.

The Selma High Saints have dropped to 10-7 on the year after coming out early in the year, and setting a blistering pace. But the Saints will be right where they need to be at the end of the year, because have they have a very strong starting rotation that will always keep them going. They have one of the hottest prospects in Division 1 basketball in Jai Miller, and the Saints will need him down the stretch. Miller will keep the Saints in games for the rest of the season, and hopefully where they need to be when tournament time rolls around.

The Southside Panthers have played phenomenal at times this year, but they have had lackluster performances as well. Nelson Waters is leading the team in scoring, despite having missed part of the season with an injury. This team has great potential if they play up to their ability, but if they perform at a minimal level it will cost them a shot at the brass ring come the end of the year.

The Keith High Bears are another one of those teams that faltered out of the gate at the beginning of the year. Head coach Joseph Pettway for the Bears has done a beautiful job of turning around this team as of late. The Bears have only lost one game since the beginning of 2003, and that was to R.C. Hatch. The Bears are one of those teams that doesn’t have a lot of height, but are very quick on the floor. This team is peaking at the right time, and could make a serious run down the stretch.

The Wilcox Central Jaguars have one of the best big men in the country in Michael Williams, and it has showed in their play this season. They have been able to pound the boards, and come up with the big rebounds not to mention the inside shots that Williams is able to create. The only problem with having a team focused around one player is if something happens to that player it could mean the end of a season for an entire team. If the Jaguars can keep Williams healthy, and build off what he is able to bring to a team they might have a good run down the stretch.

The Francis Marion Rams have always been a team to contend with, and this year is no different. The Rams have played at a pretty consistent level all year, and don’t seem to be ready to let up at this point. Head coach for the Rams Woodie Jackson has won championships in the last three decades, and it looks like he might be getting his team to make a run at one this year. If the Rams can keep playing like they have this season they will be a contender come the end of the year.

The R.C. hatch Bobcats have been no surprise to anyone this season. They have come out and played hard for the entire season, and posted some big wins. This is a team that is undersized like some other area teams, but they more than make up with it with their outside shooting ability, and quickness. This is a team that will pose a threat to just about anyone out there, and should be in great shape for a stretch run.