Philip Simmons girls’ basketball coach Dustin Williams says it’s a whole new world with the COVID-19 pandemic casting a cloud over sports. But he’s hoping a couple of old familiar names can help the Iron Horses steady the ship and help make the 2020-21 season a success.
The two players are still very young and still very talented. They are sophomore guards Kylee Kellermann and Kennedy Rivers.
The players have been fixtures on the court in the three years the school has fielded a varsity program. The Iron Horses begin Year 4 with a 39-28 composite record.
The team has qualified for the playoffs two of those years and will battle Burke and newcomer Woodland for the Region 6-AA championship.
Kellermann and Rivers both earned all-region honors as eighth-graders to help the Iron Horses to a 16-9 record in 2018-19. Kellermann averaged 10.8 points, 3 assists per game, while Rivers was right behind with 10.4 points, hitting 48 percent from 3-point land.
Last year, Rivers averaged 15 points and Kellermann 14 as both players showed accuracy from outside, each with 45 3-point goals.
A third sophomore, Maddie Moehlman, junior Deandre Brown and senior AllyWigfall round out the starting lineup.
“We are fortunate to have some players who have experience and will be able to help us cultivate the talent of our younger players,’ said Williams who was going after his 40th victory at the school when the Iron Horses opened the season against Hanahan Tuesday. “But you have to remember we haven’t played a game since February, so there’s some work to get done.”
The team has basketball smarts, a good work ethic, quickness and hustle to overcome a slight size disadvantage.
“The team understands what teams will do to us to shut us down,” Williams said. “They key is we know how to recognize those defenses and what to do in those situations whether it’s getting the ball inside or getting off a shot off a screen. We’re still lacking in size. I don’t think it will surprise a team when they see us walk onto the court.”
The top players off the bench include two freshmen, Regan Baker and Tia Chaney. Baker is a forward while Chaney is a guard and could be on the court the same time as guards Kennedy and Kellermann. Eighth-grader Lilly Buceti rounds out the team.
Region 6-AA will have a different look in 2020-21. League power Burke, Philip Simmons and Timberland will be joined by newcomers Woodland, Ridgeville-Hardeeville and Lake Marion.
“The teams will be aggressive and physical,” Williams said. “It’s going to have a different feel. But it’s going to be a great experience for us.”
Coaches and players covet two things this time of the season, and that’s winning the league championship and a deep playoff run.
“If you finish first or second, you guarantee a home game or two in the playoffs,” Williams said. “That’s important to us because we play well at home. But our achilles heel has been that second-round game. We have to go further.”