Life in South Carolina Region 4-A girls basketball can be awfully difficult if your jersey doesn't have Estill stitched on it.
The Lady Fighting Gators are two-time defending Class A champions. Blackville-Hilda coach Farrell Zissette has seen the devastation Estill has leveled on the rest of the teams in Class A over the past two years.
However, the Lady Hawks coach isn't overwhelmed and neither is his team by the Lady Gators. Blackville-Hilda (18-3, 9-3 Region 4-A) is hosting the region tournament which got underway on Wednesday.
The Lady Hawks will play the winner of Wednesday's Hunter-Kinard-TylerNorth contest today at 4 p.m. Victories by the No. 2 seed Lady Hawks as well as the No. 1 Lady Gators would set up a third meeting between the two Friday at 6:30 p.m. for the tournament championship.
The Lady Gators won both regular-season meetings.
Seniors Tameka Cave and Pam Calhoun have paced the Lady Hawks this season. The forward duo combines to average 34 points and 22 rebounds per contest. Coach Zissette said their leadership enabled Blackville-Hilda to start the season 10-0 and instilled confidence in them and their coach.
"We played tough teams and I thought we had a good chance to be pretty good," Zissette said. "We have the toughest Class A teams in the state in our region."
Irmo travels to North Augusta on Friday for a 6:30 p.m., battle of the Yellow Jackets. At stake is first place in Region 3-AAAA.
North Augusta (20-2, 11-0) is the defending region champion while perennial power Irmo (19-4, 10-1) looks to regain its hold on the region crown. Irmo won back-to-back state championships in 1994-95 and was the state runnerup in 1996.
A member of Region 3-AAAA has won the Class AAAA title four of the past five seasons. Lexington defeated Irmo in 1996 then fell to North Charleston in 1997. South Aiken brought home their first state championship last year while North Augusta is eyeing the prize this season.
Winning the region is the first step. North Augusta coach Ron McKie expects another close game with Irmo coming to town on Friday. McKie's team won 31-30 at Irmo earlier this year.
"This is a big game especially having them here," McKie said. "They had a couple of players hurt the last time we played but they should be back this time."
McCormick's boys will meet Ridge Spring-Monetta at 8:30 p.m. today at Erskine College in round two of the Region 1-A tournament.
The Chiefs (19-3) have three players averaging 10 or more points. Senior guard Torey Murray leads McCormick with 12.9 points per contest while Solynto Anderson adds 12.6. Rondell Calhoun contributes 10.6.
McCormick won the Region 1-A regular-season title for the second year with their 9-1 mark.
Steven Williams, Blackville-Hilda's 6-foot-2, 295-pound offensive lineman, will play at Newberry next season. The Augusta Chronicle all-South Carolina selection played offensive guard and noseguard for Blackville-Hilda. He was a four-year starter who graded out at 84 percent during his senior season and participated in the South Carolina North-South All-Star Game.
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