Bruins No. 5 in Class AAAA preseason state basketball poll

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Gaffney rated No. 1

By The Staff

The Lancaster Bruins solid finish and high hopes for the upcoming high school basketball season have earned the LHS boys a No. 5 ranking in the Class AAAA preseason poll.

The poll, conducted by the S.C. Basketball Coaches Association, was released earlier this week.

The Bruins, who won a share of the Region IV-AAAA title last season and went 20-6, are fifth behind defending state champion Gaffney, Lexington, Goose Creek and Irmo.

LHS, led by head coach Ricardo Priester, is followed by Richland Northeast, Sumter, Wando, Dorman and J.L. Mann.

Priester said he’s grateful for the early recognition, but knows the final results matter the most.

“This is outstanding notice for our basketball program, school and community, but we know the final poll at the end of the season matters the most,” he said. “This is grand attention for our team and it reflects the hard work our players and coaching staff have put forth, but we must go out each night and prove it.”

Priester put the honor in perspective.

“In our region preseason poll, Gaffney is No. 1 and Northwestern is second and we’re third, so we have to go out each night and play our game and be consistent.”

Lancaster, which fell to Hillcrest of Simpsonville in second-round play last winter, is led by senior Ron Trapps, a preseason all-region pick, and sophomore Sindarius Thornwell, who was named the Region III-AAAA preseason player of the year.

Lancaster, ranked as high as No. 4 in the state last season, was rated No. 12 in the final state poll for the 2009-10 campaign.

Thornwell, a 6-4 performer who is entering his second season with the LHS varsity, earned the Most Valuable Player Award at the second annual Battle of the Classes held last month at E.E. Waddell High School in Charlotte.

The Battle of the Classes features three games for the Carolinas top players among seniors, juniors and sophomores.

Thornwell, a shooting guard, scored 19 points, blocked four shots and had six rebounds to pace the South Carolina 2013 class (sophomore) team to an 86-84 win over the N.C. 2013. Thornwell’s 19 points included a pair of treys.

He was named the top player in the Bob Gibbons Classic in Chapel Hill and reaped similar honors at the Palmetto Basketball Showcase in Charleston and the Big Shot AAU tournament at Winthrop in July.

In addition to Thornwell, Trapps also played in the Battle of the Classes 2011 game, scoring seven points in S.C.’s 69-65 loss to N.C..

Trapps reaped all-region and all-county honors last season, while Thornwell was named as the Region IV-AAAA Newcomer of the Year.

A year ago, Trapps averaged 14.4 points a game and 9.2 rebounds. Thornwell, in his freshman season, scored 8.9 points a game and averaged 9.5 rebounds.

Lancaster, which is playing in the Jackets Preseason Invitational this week, opens its regular-season schedule Nov. 30 when it visits Lugoff-Elgin of Kershaw County.

The Bruins’ home opener is Dec. 3 when LHS faces county rival Andrew Jackson.

The only other Lancaster area school to earn a top 10 ranking is Great Falls, which is listed No. 5 in Class A boys.

In Class AA, which includes county schools Andrew Jackson, Buford and Indian Land in Region IV-AA, Cheraw is No. 8 in the boys state poll and Lee Central is listed No. 8 in the Class AA girls state poll.

In another area note, Lewisville High School’s Cortrell Busby was named one of the top five players in Class A boys basketball.