Philip Simmons boys’ basketball is ready to take it to the next level

The Philip Simmons High School boys’ basketball team hopes some early non-conference games will provide a solid foundation when region 6-AA play commences next month.

The Iron Horses opened the season with losses to SCISA perennial state powers Northwood Academy and Porter-Gaud, but rebounded in time to defeat High School League Class AAAAA entry Summerville in the Iron Horses’ home opener on Dec. 2. The team is scheduled to play Bishop England on Dec. 5.

“Two established programs in the private school league and a Class 5-A team,” Philip Simmons coach Garrett Campbell said. “That’s a good early season challenge. That’s what you are looking for at this stage of the season.”

The Iron Horses went 1-12 two seasons ago and followed that last winter with a 7-15 record, including 2-8 in the ultra-competitive Region 6-AA. The Iron Horses just missed the playoffs but were represented on the all-region team by Marc Haight, who is having a nice career after transferring from Palmetto Christian Academy.

The senior guard averaged 15.1 points per game last winter and is off to a fast start for the 2019-20 season, averaging 12.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3 assists per game.

Jalin Green, at 6 feet 4 inches tall, is another seasoned athlete who has the ability to play at the next level, as does Haight. Green, who began his career at Hanahan High, and Haight should hit the 1,000-point mark sometime in the near future.

Junior guard Antonio Leake has the potential to be on all-star teams by the end of the season, but he will be tested often.

“Last year, we were still a new program,” Campbell said. “We had a couple of roster changes, and we finally have a senior class. This is what we’ve been working for, to get to this point. The past couple of years got us to this point, and I’m excited to see that hard work pay off.”

It won’t be easy. Region 6-AA includes playing against well-established schools such as North Charleston and Burke High. The conference is also home to Oceanside Collegiate Academy, a magnet school with an emphasis on sports.

“Having an improved record in region play and making the playoffs are our goals,” Campbell said. “That’s what we are striving for. I told the team we have to be ready for region play. Once region play starts, you don’t get a night off. It’s cliché, but on any given night ….”

Campbell is a native of Myrtle Beach who graduated from high school in 2006 and played basketball at the College of Charleston. After college, he taught and coached at West Ashley before accepting the job at Philip Simmons High.

“Everything is in place,” the coach said. “We have our first senior class. You have to let that sink in for a while. But we have been working for this year since the day we held the first practice. It’s time to take it to the next level.”

Daniel Island Publishing

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