In the just completed football season, Barnwell and Silver Bluff battled it out for Region 6-AA supremacy.
In basketball, the two teams appear headed in the same direction.
Both Silver Bluff (5-1) and Barnwell (3-1) are in the Aiken Twin State Holiday Invitational Tournament on Dec. 27-30. If the teams win, they could face each other in the semifinals.
Silver Bluff will face Aiken while Barnwell will take on Class AAA No. 3 Newberry in the opening round. The other half of the bracket pits Butler against Lincoln County and Hephzibah against Lakeside.
"We still have some work to do first," first-year Silver Bluff coach Keith Radford said. "This (varsity coaching) has been real interesting so far. The last four days have been real good. We had some really good practices (last Friday) and Monday. We got a lot of work done both days."
Radford's biggest problems has been off the court. He suspended star forward Lamass Barefield, the second-best player in the South Carolina area to South Aiken's Tony Kitchings, for one game in Tuesday's 76-72 win over Wagener-Salley.
The team also has learned that junior forward Rolando Williams is academically ineligible and will not play this season.
Williams, a two-year starter, was a second team The Augusta Chronicle All-Area selection last season, and has averaged nearly 13 points and more than 10 rebounds a game his first two seasons.
"I think it's just been a case of them getting used to me and me getting use to them," Radford said. "Hopefully, the rest of the season will be like the last few days. We really have accomplished a lot."
BARNWELL: Barnwell coach Chip Atkins is watching his junior-dominated squad show its potential. The Warhorses start a freshman, a sophomore and three juniors.
Atkins, with 494 career wins, is six wins from the 500-career victory mark and a spot in the South Carolina Basketball Hall of Fame. He is the winningest active boys' coach in South Carolina and is No. 6 all-time.
Atkins can tie former A.C. Flora coach Cy Szakacsi (495) for No. 5 all-time with a home win against county rival Blackville-Hilda tonight.
"I'm getting a little bit closer," Atkins said. "I'm not even mentioning it, but the kids know."
The Barnwell coach is trying not to overlook the other Region 6-AA teams when he thinks of this season's Region 6-AA race.
On paper, Barnwell and Silver Bluff are the biggest and most experienced teams in the region.
"Size-wise, we (Barnwell and Silver Bluff) are probably about even," Atkins said. "Hopefully, it (the region crown) will be that way, but you can't count out Allendale-Fairfax, Jasper (County) or Wade Hampton. Look what Bamberg did. They beat Blackville-Hilda (52-50) on (Tuesday) night."
HEAVYWEIGHT BATTLE: Unbeaten Wagener-Salley (7-0) travels tonight to defending Class A state champion Estill in a Region 5-A battle.
Wagener-Salley posted an impressive 73-52 win over Batesburg-Leesville on Friday and is getting great play from Class A All-State candidates Dee Tyler, a forward, and Nicole Harrison, a guard.
BASKETBALL SMORGASBORD: Barnwell will hold a boys' basketball tourney on Monday that will feature eight games beginning at 10 a.m.
Teams will play two games on Monday. Gilbert will play Hunter-Kinard-Tyler at 10 a.m.; Barnwell vs. play Williston-Elko at 11:30 a.m.; Blackville-Hilda vs. Branchville at 1 p.m.; and Bamberg-Ehrhardt at Swansea at 2:30 p.m.
Losers of the first two games will play at 4 p.m.; losers of the third and fourth at 5:30 p.m.; winners of the first two at 7 p.m.; and winners of the third and fourth at 8:30 p.m.
Admission is $4 each day.
"For four dollars, you can come and see all the basketball you want," Atkins said.
There will only be four games on Tuesday with the championship game at 7:30 p.m. Preliminary games will be held at 3 p.m., 4:30 p.m. and 6 p.m.
SHRINE BOWL: Three area players will participate in Saturday's Shrine Bowl game at 12:30 p.m. at Charlotte's Memorial Stadium.
Tickets are $15 for reserved seating and $6 for general admission.
Those participating include James Murray and Tyeler Dean, both of Barnwell, and linebacker Kenneth Harney, of Allendale-Fairfax.
Murray and Harney, both linebackers, were selected co-Region 6-AA Linemen of the Year. Dean is expected to kickoff, kick extra points and field goals, and boot punts in the game that pits North Carolina prep All-Stars against those from South Carolina.
The game could turn into an offensive war between Gaffney star quarterback and South Carolina All-Star Kentrell Jones and West Charlotte and North Carolina All-Star quarterback Keith Matkins.
Jones led Gaffney to the Class AAAA, Division I state title, passing for 3,460 yards and 42 touchdowns. Matkins led West Charlotte to the North Carolina Class AAAA state quarterfinals before losing to eventual state champion Richmond County, ranked No. 15 by USA TODAY.
West Charlotte lost 27-26 to Richmond County after blowing a 26-0 lead in the third period.
TRANSFERS: Brandon Key, a 6-foot-1 sophomore guard, is making quite an impact for Silver Bluff.
Key, who scored 15 points in a win over Wagener-Salley on Tuesday, is a transfer from Atlanta. It marks the second consecutive season that an impact player has transferred to Silver Bluff. Last year, star forward Lamass Barefield came back to the area from Philadelphia.
"He's a good complement to (fellow guards) Chino (Danny Green) and Leroy (Walker)," coach Keith Radford said. "And might I add a very nice, young man, too."
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