Predators hoping for deep playoff run
The Fox Creek boys basketball team is coming into the 2013-14 season facing a tremendous amount of turnover.
The Predators lost three starters and their head coach from last season, which ended in the third round of the playoffs. For first-year head coach Andrew Peckham, the challenge is replicating, and possibly surpassing what that team was able to accomplish.
“Last year we were undefeated in the region,” Peckham said. “We want to do that again. They made it to the third round of the playoffs. We want to make a run in late February and hopefully make some noise in the playoffs.”
Peckham has some key returning players, none more important than point guard Marques Sumner. Sumner is the leading returning scorer from last season. The junior point guard looking to take a leadership role on the team, which is going to run an up-tempo style of offense.
“I want to be a leader on this team, and I have to be more vocal on the court,” Sumner said. “As the point guard, I’ve got to be able to lead us to where we want to go.”
Sumner said this team could be state champions at season’s end.
“I think we have the potential and talent to be the state champion,” he said. “We have to work and listen to our coaches if we want to get there.”
One of the weaknesses of last year’s team, according to Peckham, was post play and rebounding. He hopes first-year player Ikel El, a standout football player, can help his team in the paint.
“Ikel, he’s an athlete and he’s a big kid,” Peckham said. “We’re hoping he can help us down low. Also, with our system, he’s perfect. He can run the floor and has the ability to play outside a little bit. We’re a guard-oriented team, so we struggle with rebounding. He’s a great fit to help with that.”
El hopes he can help the team by “getting buckets and rebounds.”
“My job on this team is to get buckets and grab rebounds,” he said. “I want to lead this team and be a force down low. I don’t think many post players will be able to keep up with me.”
Peckham’s team, which is ranked No. 7 in the South Carolina Basketball Coaches Association preseason poll, has high expectations for this season.
“Our goal is to win state,” El said. “They were close last year, and we want to get there this year.”
The way to get there, according to Peckham, is through defense.
“We’re focusing on the defensive side of the ball, especially early on,” he said. “I told the team that if they want to win anything, we have to be a top defensive team in the state.”
Fox Creek’s first game will be on Dec. 2 at Silver Bluff. They will then play host to Augusta Christian at (enter location) before playing in the Garden City Classic at Augusta Prep from Dec. 5 through 7.