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LHS girls No. 1 in Class AAA

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Lady Bruins are tops in preseason hoops poll

By Robert Howey

Lancaster County, led by the defending Class AAA girls state champions Lancaster Lady Bruins, earned its share of hoops recognition as the S.C. Basketball Coaches Association released its preseason rankings along with the state’s top boys and girls players for the 2015-16 season.
Lancaster, which finished 27-0 last season under veteran coach Ronnie Robinson, was named the top team in Class AAA.
Lancaster, which defeated Lakewood High of Sumter County, 44-42 for the state crown – the school’s first since the 1959 season, is followed in the top 10 by Dreher, Orangeburg-Wilkinson, Crestwood, South Pointe, Myrtle Beach, Lower Richland, Wren, Greer and Wilson of Florence.
“We’ve worked hard to get to this position and we’ve got to work even harder to stay on top,” Robinson said. “We know we will have a target on our back. Where we are now is a testament to our hard work.”
Lancaster defeated Dreher of Columbia, 42-35 in the Class AAA Upper State title game at the Bon Secours Arena in Greenville last season.
Lady Bruins’ senior guard Malia Rivers was listed as one of the top five seniors in Class AAA girls.
Rivers, a Class AAA all-state pick and the Region III-AAA Player of the Year, was selected as the Lancaster County Player of the Year. She averaged 15.8 points a game to go with three rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.3 steals.
LHS also returns senior Hayden Thorne, an all-region pick who averaged a team-high 8.1 rebounds along with all-region senior Keyotta Garris, who averaged 6.9 points  and four rebounds.
Senior forward Alexis Williams, an all-region pick, is back after scoring 8.1 points a game last season for LHS.
Lancaster tips off its season, playing in a preseason tournament at Dorman High School in Spartanburg on Nov. 23 when the Lady Bruins play eighth-ranked Wren High of Piedmont at 6 p.m.
Indian Land’s Quantra Taylor, a senior post player and team captain, was tabbed among the Class AA boys top five seniors. He was an all-county and all-region pick last season when he scored nine points and grabbed 10.6 rebounds a game.
In Class AA boys, Andrew Jackson is ranked No. 4 in the preseason boys basketball poll.
Keenan is No. 1 followed by Ridgeland/Hardeeville, Timberland, AJ, Mullins, Lake Marion, Cheraw, Abbeville, Lee Central and Garrett Academy.
The Vols are bolstered by the return of all-region pick Dontarius James, a sophomore who averaged 19.2 points and 11.8 rebounds. Senior Corey Walters, an all-region pick, also returns for the Vols after hitting 14.8 points with 3.1 rebounds a game.
AJ boys coach Danny Wright led the Volunteers to a 16-7 record, which included a runner-up finish in Region IV-AA with a 10-2 mark, last season.
AJ fell in the Class AA Upstate semifinals to Strom Thurmond High School of Edgefield.
The AJ girls, of veteran coach Dennis Farmer, are ranked ninth in the Class AA girls state poll.
Bishop England tops the poll, followed by Dillon, Newberry, Mullins, Pendleton, Keenan, Ridgeland-Hardeeville, Saluda, AJ and Kingstree.
AJ, 14-8 last season, advanced to the second round of the Class AA Upper State playoffs. The Lady Vols return a trio of senior all-region players in Elizabeth Scott, Summer Vick and Brantley Ussery.