Both the Fort Mill boys’ and girls’ basketball teams have been picked to finish pretty high in Region 3-5A, but neither coach is ready to crown anyone yet.
For the boy’s team, the Jackets are coming off a 9-7 season that was shortened by COVID-19 in the number of games they played. The Jackets were picked to finish second in the region this season behind Clover and has a lot of returning players back from last year that could help them live up to the expectations.
Key players back from last year’s team are leading scorer in Kyle Neibch, as well as Gabe Tooper, both of which head coach Dwayne Hartsoe is looking to lead Fort Mill this coming season. Both Neibch, coming out from football, and Tooper are dealing with injuries to start the season. Neibch was injured during the football season and missed the last two games of the season, while Tooper was injured in practice recently.
“We really haven’t had a chance to get everybody out there,” Hartsoe said.
Along with players like Tooper and Neibch, Fort Mill also has a lot of younger talent that will be counted on as well. Hartsoe said that the team is coming together nicely and are a good group to coach. Fort Mill has just four seniors on the roster, along with seven juniors and a sophomore.
Fort Mill will open the season next week as part of the Milltown Classic at Catawba Ridge. While it will be just the start of the season, Hartsoe said he knows it is a step to get them ready for region play after the holidays.
“We got a way to go before we get to the region,” Hartsoe said. “Some of the young guys will have to grow.”
The Fort Mill girls have been picked to win the region. The Jackets bring back top region player in forward Nadia Dial, who recently signed to play at West Point.
“We have the potential,” said Fort Mill head coach Heather Klipa. “We have a lot of fun pieces, but we have a lot of new faces as well.”
Fort Mill has a lot of young talent with just Dial and Lindsay Paukovitz as its only two seniors. Klipa, who is coming off an 8-8 season last year, said the team is making progress and had a real good summer.
“Our effort has been tremendous,” she said. “They are doing the right things. It is going to take time. These girls have the talent.”
The Fort Mill girls will open their half of the Milltown Classic at Nation Ford and then tip off the regular season along with the boys Nov. 30 hosting Catawba Ridge.
Mac Banks: firstname.lastname@example.org, @fortprep