Steve Young has the South Aiken girls basketball team believing it can win.
The Lady Thoroughbreds (8-6, 2-1) face one of their toughest challenges tonight when they travel to Orangeburg-Wilkinson in a Region 3-AAAA game.
"With the conditioning program at the beginning of the year and what we've been teaching them in practice is the difference between this year and last year," said Young, the team's first-year coach.
While South Aiken suffered its first region loss on Tuesday to Lexington, Young can see the confidence in his squad and knows that will carry over into tonight's game.
"They proved they can play Lexington," Young said. "As a team, we've proved that we can play with good basketball teams and O-W has a good basketball team, and they play very well at home."
The Lady Thoroughbreds' leading scorer, senior forward Nicole Armstrong, has been nursing a right shin injury the last couple of days but has not been slowed by the injury.
STUCK AT THE GATES:
The opposite is happening to Donnie Holland and South Aiken's boys team.
The Thoroughbreds started the season 9-5 but are 0-3 in region play after losses to North Augusta and Lexington the past two times on the court. Lexington's nine 3-pointers and clutch free-throw shooting toward the end of the game helped the Wildcats to victory.
"Year after year, they have three-point shooters," Holland said after Tuesday's loss. "When you shoot the three like that, you are always going to be in the game."
Even with the threat of dropping to 0-4 with a loss against Orangeburg-Wilkinson, Holland still doesn't think of tonight's game as a must-win situation.
"It's too early to start panicking," Holland said. "Most teams have three or four losses that have come out the winner of the region. There is a lot of basketball that needs to be played."
North Augusta's boys team is off to an 8-1 start and is 3-0 in Region 3-AAAA, one of its best starts in school history.
Ranked No. 6 in the Class AAAA polls, the Yellow Jackets have split the season series with No. 1 Greenwood, and defeated then-No. 2 Orangeburg-Wilkinson on Jan. 9.
Behind the court leadership of Orlando Washington and Jeff Wright, North Augusta faces No. 10 Lower Richland tonight. Irmo and Aiken are scheduled for next week before North Augusta squares off with Lexington and Orangeburg-Wilkinson on the road to finish the month.
THROUGHOUT SOUTH CAROLINA:
Although Blackville-Hilda heads into tonight's matchup against Williston-Elko with a 4-9 record, it is carrying a lethal weapon in Nick Thomas. Thomas has reached 30 points this season five times and is closing in on 1,000 points for his career ... Tonight's game between Class AA No. 3 Barnwell and No. 10 Bamberg-Ehrhardt figures to be a strong contest as the Warhorses (16-2) play host to the 11-2 Red Raiders ... No. 5 Silver Bluff (12-4) remains a top contender in Region 6-AA play despite its Tuesday loss to Bamberg-Ehrhardt. The Bulldogs tonight travel to Allendale-Fairfax.
Reach Miguelangelo Hernandez at (706) 823-3304.