Philip Simmons girls' basketball team aims for consistency
Last winter, the youthful Philip Simmons High School girls basketball team savored success early in the season with an impressive record and a top-10 ranking among the best Class AA teams in the Palmetto State.
But the Iron Horses struggled in the second half and lacked staying power once Region 6-AA completion began.
This winter, coach Dustin Williams wants his team to strive for consistency, a conference championship and an impressive run in the playoffs.
“We have four returning starters,” Williams said. “We’ll have a little different chemistry than last year. We had a couple of players transfer or relocate. But we have a good core group returning.
“We’re working to find fifth and sixth players,” the coach continued. “We need to find a couple of players who can help us right now.”
Philip Simmons won five games during the 2018-19 season, but was 5-1 with the No. 2 state ranking to begin last season. The team proceeded to lose back-to-back games and dropped to No. 6 the next week.
Philip Simmons finished with a 16-9 record, including 6-4 in league play. The Iron Horses recorded their first ever playoff victory with a decision over Calhoun County, but exited the playoffs in the second round with a loss to Woodland.
The returning nucleus of the team is still young, but talented with fab freshmen Kylee Kellermann, Kennedy Rivers, and Zhaire Mack.
The other returning starter is senior Ashley Richardson, who is versatile enough to play shooting forward, power forward, and the wing.
Kellermann and Rivers both earned all-region honors last season. Kellerman averaged 10.8 points, 3 assists per game, while Rivers was right behind with 10.4 points, hitting 48 percent from 3-point land. She averaged 2 assists.
There are seven freshmen on the roster, so basics and fundamentals are often on the agenda at practice. Williams wants to build a solid foundation with strong junior varsity and freshmen teams, but the freshmen are forced to play at the varsity level because of the program’s early stage of development.
The Iron Horses finished third in the region behind Burke and North Charleston, two established programs with rich histories that have reached the mountaintop of girls basketball in past years.
“We play in one of the toughest regions in the Lowcountry and state,” Williams said. “Those programs have rich history. Timberland is a very athletic team and Oceanside Collegiate will be better this year. To prepare for our region schedule, we have scheduled Summerville, Bishop England and St. John’s. Summerville is a Class AAAAA school while Bishop England is right down the road and is a program that has had success that we should strive for.”
The team’s goal is to win the region title and then make a run in the playoffs.
“It takes five (playoff) games (to win the state championship),” Williams said. “The goal is to win one and move to the next level. You have to take it one game at a time, especially with a team that is as young as ours.”