By Garrett Mitchell, Staff Writer
Winter is here, and with it comes a new season for three Woodruff High School sports programs. The girls’ and boys’ basketball teams as well as the wrestling team are primed to build from successful 2019-20 campaigns as they get set to take the court and the mat.
The Lady Wolverine basketball team is coming off a tremendous season a year ago in which they won 21 games, and with three starters returning look to be contenders once again.
The boys’ basketball team finished second in Region III-3A a season ago, its highest finish in almost 30 years, and hosted a play-off game. The Woodruff boys also return a dynamic core of playmakers and are looking to build from last season’s success.
The Wolverine wrestling sports a bevy of young talent that will need to mature and gel as they look to reclaim region dominance for a program that has long been on of South Carolina’s best.
We’ve compiled the following snapshots for each winter sports team that will tell you what to expect when the lights in the gym come on in just a few weeks.
Head coach: Jon Jansen
Last season’s record: 21-7 (8-2 Region III-3A); 2nd place
Returning starters: 3
Key returning players: M.G. Runyans, senior (All-Region); Brooke Bailey, senior; Lillie Rhodes, senior
Key newcomers: Kylie Hitchcock, sophomore
Season outlook from Coach Jansen: “The 2020-2021 Lady Wolverines will reflect our community; hard working and determined to succeed. The front court will have experience and size. We expect to compete for the region championship.”
Head coach: Bryan McConnell
Last season’s record: 14-10 (7-3 Region III-3A), 2nd place
Returning starters: 2
Key returning players: Dyon Bartley, senior (All-Region); Zy Scott, senior; Nathan Montjoy, senior; Shamare Dendy, senior; Jailen Tribble, junior; Jonathan Sexton, senior
Key newcomers: Davon Geter, senior; Mathias Dial, junior; Tae Goggins, junior
Season outlook from Coach McConnell: “As exciting as last year was, we have told our returners and seniors, that last year was last year, and they have to set their own goals for this year and put in motion what they want their legacy to be as the class of 2020-21. As a team and staff, we expect to continue to push forward with our program and work hard to be the best Woodruff team we can be. We expect to have more speed this year and use that to our advantage since we do lack in height. As a whole, our region is very tall, with three of the five teams having at least one guy 6’8”, so we hope that we can utilize our athleticism and speed to negate the height. We hope to be a more full-court team defensively and offensively, get out in transition to score quickly. The key to this season is playing together and using our athleticism. We are excited to get underway.”
Head coach: John Harper
Last season’s record: 20-9 (3-1 Region III-3A), 2nd place
Returning starters: 5
Key returning wrestlers: Genaro De La Garza, sophomore (2020 3rd place state tournament finish)
Key newcomers: None provided
Season outlook from Coach Harper: “This season will be a rebuild of sorts as we only return a handful of starters, and will rely mainly on our younger wrestlers to improve as the season progresses. We expect to be competitive as always, and with proper preparation and growth, we will see what the season holds.”