By Thomas Grant Jr.
Expectations are once again high at Ridge View High School.
The boys basketball team is the preseason number one in Class 4A by the S.C. Basketball Coaches Association. The Blazers also had guard Jordan Smith and forward Jayden Pretty selected to the preseason Top Five Boys Select team for Class 4A.
“Being ranked number one in the state in 4A is a real honor,” Smith said. “We’ve just got to live up to the expectations and work harder.”
There’s also an increased comfort level among the team with second-year head coach Joshua Staley.
“It’s just like any type of relationship,” he said. “The longer you’re around each other, the more you get to know each other, the better it gets. So the guys know my expectations, so things are going well.”
Staley said the team has matured to take game preparation seriously. He expects another tough challenge in Region 5-4A, where it finished tied for second with A.C. Flora and behind eventual Class 4A champion Irmo.
The Blazers will also have a challenging non-region schedule starting with The Bash on Dec. 7-9 at home. They will also take part in a tournament in Tampa, Fla., and the Chick-fil-A Classic at River Bluff High School.
“All of that tough competition only gets you better,” Staley said. “So, you embrace it and figure out a way to get better.”
“I feel like this year, it’s like another level of motivation,” Pretty said. “I feel like we’re going to win it. I feel like we play hard, we’re going to play aggressively.
“Last year, a lot of people were down on us, saying we weren’t living up to expectations. I feel like we’re going to change it this year and win it.”
In Class 4A girls, Westwood was ranked second behind defending champion North Augusta. The Class 5A rankings had Blythewood 10th in boys and Spring Valley 5th in girls.
S.C. Basketball Coaches Association Preseason Rankings
5. Goose Creek
6. TL Hanna
9. Cane Bay
1. Ridge View
4. Catawba Ridge
7. North Augusta
8. James Island
9. South Florence
3. Rock Hill
5. Spring Valley
7. Carolina Forest
8. Ashley Ridge
9. Dutch Fork
1. North Augusta
3. Wade Hampton
4. AC Flora
5. South Pointe
6. James Island
PHOTO BY RIDGE VIEW HIGH SCHOOL – Ridge View’s Jordan Smith, head coach Joshua Staley and Jayden Pretty