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SC hoops driving for title

030117SChoops-5

South Central's Shykeim Phillips, left, looks for an opening during a game against Green Hope on Feb. 28, 2017.

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By JORDAN ANDERS
The Daily Reflector

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The crushing way its season ended in March led to an offseason that felt longer than usual for South Central's boys' basketball team.

The Falcons came up one point short of a trip to the 4-A state championship game, falling 44-43 to Leesville Road in the East Regional finals to close out a 27-2 season for a team that had just one senior within its top six scorers.

That means the majority of last year's key players are back for coach Chris Cherry's program, which starts its season tonight with a trip to Greene Central.

"We're always excited," Cherry said. "The kids are real anxious about the season. It's been a long offseason considering how it ended last year, then the summer, but we've gotten a year older, a year maturer, and we're looking forward to testing it out."

This year's SC team is widely regarded as one of the best in the 4-A East, bolstered by no less than three players who are attracting the attention of college recruiters.

Defending Eastern Carolina 3-A/4-A Conference player of the year Shykeim Phillips is back for his junior season. The guard was SC's leading scorer last season at 13.3 points per game.

"We're just ready to get back at it again," Phillips said. "We fell short a little bit (last year), but I think we're going to get it this time. We've been working hard in the offseason and I think it's going to pay off.

"We were very young (last year) and now that we've got experience, we know what to do and we know what teams are going to come at us with. I think we'll be ready this time."

Among the other key players back this year are big men Luke Davis (junior) and Day'Ron Sharpe (sophomore). Sharpe averaged 8.9 points and 7.1 rebounds a year ago as a 6-foot-7 freshman, but Cherry said he is now 6-10 and poised, along with Phillips, to be a dominant force.

"(Phillips) has grown a lot and Day'Ron has grown a couple of inches," Cherry said. "We've done the work where it needed to be done in the gym and in the weight room. We're excited."

Elsewhere in Pitt County, J.H. Rose is off to a 3-0 start behind sophomore guard Creighton Lebo (20.0 points per game). The Rampants have scored at least 71 points in each of their three games.

Farmville Central (2-0), North Pitt (2-0) and D.H. Conley (1-1) each have at least one win to start the year. Ayden-Grifton plays its first game tonight against the Panthers.

GIRLS: On the girls' side, all six county teams have started the year. Ayden-Grifton (0-2) is the only team without a win.

South Central (1-0) and D.H. Conley (2-0) are still unbeaten early. J.H. Rose sits at 1-3, and North Pitt and Farmville Central each are 1-1.

Contact Jordan Anders at janders@reflector.com, 252-329-9594 or follow @ReflectorJordan on Twitter.

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