A playoff spot has been hard to find for Fox Creek High School's basketball boys in recent seasons, and the outlook for 2019-20 is loaded with challenges, as Region 2-AA is home to two of the state's top-ranked teams: Saluda (sixth) and Abbeville (eighth).
Andrew Peckham, beginning his seventh season as the Predator's head coach, saw his squad begin this week with a record of 5-5, heading into a Tuesday home game versus Strom Thurmond.
Fox Creek's roster is packed with seniors, including the tallest Predator on the court: Demarkus Young, at 6-foot-5. Young's classmates include guard Deavion Scales, 6-foot-2, who bagged all-region recognition for his service during the 2018-19 season; forward Dalton Langley, 6-foot-4; forward Jacoby Johnson, 6-foot-1; and guard Justin Freeman, 6-foot.
Peckham described Scales as "one of the most high-motor players that I've ever coached, on both sides of the floor." Scales, he said, is averaging about 15 points per game.
Freeman is the team's second-leading scorer, has strong defensive and rebounding skills, and is beginning his fourth year in Peckham's system, the coach said.
She'keim Young, at 6-foot-3, is the junior corps' sole forward. His classmates are all 6-foot guards: Tyler Stampley, Trey Butler and Jordan Carroll.
Sophomores on board are forward Nick Williams, 6-foot-4; forward Chandler O'Bannon, 6-foot-2; and guard Jadon Johnson, 6-foot, whom Peckham described as having "a tremendous 'up' side as far as his ability to run the team, both offensively and defensively."
The "team speed is really good," Peckham said. "I think we are defending better this year than we've defended in the past. We have a little more length and athleticism, so I'm excited about that."
Action in the next few days – with all games starting at 7:30 p.m. – is to be Dec. 13 at Westminster, Dec. 17 at home versus Lincoln County (of Lincolnton, Georgia), Dec. 18 at Strom Thurmond and Dec. 20 at Augusta Prep, in Martinez. Region play is to begin Jan. 10 at Ninety Six.
Peckham said a preseason poll of Region 2-AA teams had Saluda in first, followed, in order, by Abbeville, Silver Bluff, Ninety Six, Fox Creek and Batesburg-Leesville.
The preseason poll of the South Carolina Basketball Coaches Association has Gray Collegiate pegged as the state's best AA squad. Following, in order, are Andrew Jackson, Mullins, Oceanside Collegiate, Christ Church, Saluda, Woodland, Abbeville, North Charleston and Lee Central. Dallan Wright, of Saluda, is listed among the state's top AA players.