Marques Johnson, No. 32, is one of the key players Catawba Ridge is counting on in their first season as the team opens its inaugural season at the Milltown Classic Nov. 25-27.

                FORT MILL – The inaugural season of basketball for the Catawba Ridge Copperheads is right around the corner as both the boys’ and girls’ teams tip off the season Nov. 25-27 as part of the Milltown Classic.

                On the boys’ side of things, Catawba Ridge comes in with a roster of 15 underclassmen, with eight of those being juniors.

                “I really like this group,” said head coach Brett Childers, who came over from Fort Mill, where he was the girls’ basketball coach. “There is a lot of young hungry talent on the team. It is about getting some experience.”

                Childers said that none of the 15 players on the roster have any varsity experience, so they are very green when it comes to experience.

                The two most athletic players on the team that stand out are 5’11” junior Quinten Jackson, who also played football for Catawba Ridge and 6’3” junior Marques Johnson.

                “Marques is coming from Fort Mill and he was a on their JV team last year and Quinten you can see how he moves on the football field,” Childers said. “Those two are athletically tops of what we have.”

                The team does have height to its advantage this season as seven players check in over 6’0” tall with junior Luke Krawczyk coming in at a true 6’7” and sophomore Carter Hendrick coming in at 6’5”. Both of those make the transition from Nation Ford to Catawba Ridge.

                “There is a lot of potential in there,” Childers said.

                Childers said realistically for the first year, the goal is to make the playoffs. He said he has a number of wins he would like to reach, but wants to keep that to himself.

                “I don’t want to tell those guys,” he said. “We have a very tough schedule, which I like. It is going to help us in Region (4-3A) play. Growing and competing every night and fighting for that playoff spot is a great way to start. We would love to have a winning record. We have long term goals and short-term goals we talk about. Long term goal is to gain experience and develop a culture and a philosophy. These guys are making it a smooth transition for me.”

                On the girls’ side, again the youthfulness of the team stands out. The Copperheads have just two juniors on the team, both coming from Nation Ford in Victoria Jordan and Emma Grace Hilton. The team has seven freshmen and one sophomore on the team as well.

                “They work hard,” said head coach Kate Edwards, who came over from Nation Ford, where she was the girls’ coach. “The only one that has any varsity experience is Victoria (Jordan) and Emma Grace (Hilton) played on our JV team last year (at Nation Ford). We are looking for them to be our leaders on the floor.”

                The majority of the freshmen on the team come from Banks Trail Middle where they played together for two seasons.

                “We will have some ups and downs being young, but they get basketball,” Edwards said.

                Edwards said the goal for this year’s team is to make the playoffs.

                “We will be competing in the middle of the pack,” she said. “We should be in the top three or four. That is realistic for us. We aren’t talking about wins and losses; we are just talking about doing the little things better every day.”

                Catawba Ridge will start the season, both the boys and girls, as part of the Milltown Classic, played at both Fort Mill and Nation Ford.  The boys’ team will play at Nation Ford and the girls’ team will play at Fort Mill. The boys’ team will open with Cuthbertson at 5 p.m. Nov. 25, while the girls’ team will open against Parkwood, also at 5 p.m.

                The regular season with start for them Dec. 2 at York Prep for the girls, and the boys will start the regular season Dec. 3 hosting Nation Ford. Other key non-region games for the Copperheads are at Fort Mill Dec. 6 and then hosting Fort Mill Dec. 13. They will travel to Nation Ford Dec. 20.

                The boys’ team will play in the Chesnee Roundball Classic tournament Dec. 27-30 over the holiday break. The region schedule for both the boys’ and girls’ teams start Jan. 10 at Camden.