Turn the frown of a basketball season that began with nine losses in 12 games upside down and you have the current state of Philip Simmons High School girls’ basketball.
Coach Dustin Williams’ squad rebounded from the rough start to post eight victories in a row, including seven consecutive Region 8-AAA victories that give the Iron Horses yet another conference championship.
That’s something to smile about if you are an Iron Horse fan as the team survived heavy graduation losses. The Iron Horses, who own a 11-9 record, including 7-0 in league play were scheduled to play region foe Battery Creek on Feb. 6 to close out the regular season.
The Iron Horses will have two playoff games at The Phil thanks to the fantastic finish to the regular season. Williams said his squad’s first playoff opponent should be Aynor.
Williams is a veteran coach with much success, so he knew it was just a matter of time before his young squad consistently played four solid quarters of basketball. The team faced a rugged non-league schedule that included Wando, James Island, Stratford and Goose Creek.
“Coming into the season, we knew it might take a little time,” Williams said. “I knew we had the talent, and it was just a matter of this team coming together. We lost some key players (from last year’s team) and it took time to develop that cohesiveness.”
The team lost a nucleus of three key players who had been with the program since Day 1 back in 2017: Kennedy Rivers, Kylee Kellermann and Zhaire Mack.
Rivers and Kellermann both scored 1,000 points in their careers and earned all-state accolades. Mack opted out of playing during the COVID-19 season and that cost her a shot at 1,000 points. She finished with 978 career points and earned all-state honors.
The three players led PSHS to a 72-40 record in the six seasons they were on varsity.
This season, the roster isn’t deep. Williams had seven players on the roster after Nykeisha Brown went down with an injury. Williams has worked some promising junior varsity players into the mix to give them experience.
Sophomore Kenira Holmes has all-state potential. She leads the team with 9.9 points and 9.4 rebounds per contest. She’s defensive as well, blocking nearly two shots per game.
Tia Chaney is the only senior on the roster and she provides leadership and skills at both ends of the court. She scores 9.5 points a game, leading the team with 33% shooting from 3-point land. She also collects 1.8 assists and 2.3 steals.
Germany Moore is another talented sophomore. She’s averaging 8.3 points a contest and leads the team with 43 percent shooting. She’s a force on the boards with 9.1 rebounds.
Junior Lily Buceti led the team with 39 assists heading into action this week while freshman Harper Cohen was right behind with 33. Sophia Wirsing and Regan Baker have contributed as well.