BE girls' basketball team scores top spot in pre-season rankings
In past years, the Bishop England girls’ basketball team has been No. 1 with a bullet. This year, the Bishops begin the season No. 1 with an asterisk.
The South Carolina State Basketball Coaches Association released its 2017-18 preseason rankings and the Bishops begin the season in the top spot in Class AAA.
Veteran coach Paul Runey said the ranking is based on the Bishops’ past performances.
“I know it’s the same old cliché, but that is based more on what we did last year than what we have back this year,” Runey said. “I told the girls, Newberry, with four starters back, is probably the team to beat.”
The Bishops, who opened the 2017-18 season with a lopsided victory over Palmetto Scholars Academy, have been the elite team in South Carolina the past six years based on success and state championships.
Saturday’s victory gave the Bishops their 152nd victory in their last 166 games. But the most impressive part of the Bishops’ resume is five state titles in the past six seasons. Last March’s dramatic victory over Newberry in the state championship gave the Bishops their fourth straight state title. The Bishops are only one of six teams in state history to win four consecutive titles.
But that was then and this is now.
Four starters from last year’s team, that posted a 24-3 record, graduated. The lone starter back for more is Josie Dennis. But three players, Katie Brooks, Kelly Drummond and Katie Cullum, came off the bench and played as much as the starters last winter.
In fact, last year’s championship came down to one final play, and both players involved in the heroics, Dennis and Cullum, are back. Dennis deftly fired a pass to Cullum underneath the basket in the final seconds, and Cullum scored against Newberry to give the Bishops’ their fourth consecutive state title.
The Bishops will get better as the season progresses, but they could take some lumps because of a demanding schedule that includes games against Wando, West Ashley and Goose Creek, not to mention some tough foes in holiday tournaments.
This year’s team will face the same pressures as past teams. The 2017-18 Bishops will be expected to win.
“Everyone is aware of the success,” Runey said. “I don’t tell them, ‘Look at our (state championship) rings, look at our records.’ I tell them we have a target on our backs.”
The Bishop boys are also ranked in the preseason poll, checking in at No. 9.
Bishop England quarterback Leo Albano has been named to the Palmetto Champions All-Star football team.
The team is selected by the South Carolina Football Coaches Association. The team includes a back, lineman and coach for each of the state’s five classifications, and includes Upper State and Lower State selections..
The honorees will be feted during a Nov. 30 banquet in Columbia. A Lineman, Back, Specialty Team Player and Coach of the Year will be announced at the banquet.
Albano, the Class AAA Lower State Back of the Year, finished his high school football career at Bishop England with four school records.
Albano set school records for a single season in rushing with 1,639 yards this fall. He also set the school record for touchdowns in a single season with 28.
Albano also owns two career records. The lefty scored 67 career touchdowns and owns school best 4,017 career rushing yards.
Albano will now focus on basketball and baseball. He was all-state in basketball last winter and helped the Bishops win their first state championship in baseball since the 2011 season.