Fort Mill player Brandon Wingo, left, looks to get out of a potential trap during practice. Wingo is back this year for the Jackets as a senior leader.

In a year of the unknown, the Fort Mill basketball program has a lot of that to open the 2020-2021 season this week.

Fort Mill boys’ and girls’ teams open the season participating in the Milltown Basketball Classic being held at all three local high schools against visiting Andrew Jackson, Spartanburg and Rock Hill. Fort Mill girls will play at 6 p.m. and the boys will follow.

The boys’ team has four players back from last year and only two with any serious playing time in seniors Jackson Fewster and Brandon Wingo. Fort Mill also has five new faces that are new to the school and head coach Dwayne Hartsoe is eager to find out how they will do come game time.

“We are behind because we haven’t been able to do anything all summer (because of the coronavirus),” he said. “We are still trying to learn things.”

Besides the Milltown Classic, Fort Mill opens the regular season at Lancaster Dec. 1 and then at Catawba Ridge Dec. 4. The Jackets will have a strong non-region schedule with games against York, Northwestern and Indian Land as well, before participating in the Nation Ford Holiday Tournament Dec. 21-23.

Fort Mill will start Region 3-5A play Jan. 12 hosting Boiling Springs and will also participate in the Martin Luther King (MLK) Basketball Showcase Jan. 18 at York. After the showcase, Fort Mill will finish the season with all region games hoping to finish in the top two spots to qualify for the playoffs.

“They are working hard,” Hartsoe said. “We hope to be able to compete in the region. We hope we get to play.”

Girls’ team

The Lady Jackets’ head coach Heather Klipa is optimistic about the season as they continue to handle the uncertainty that the season brings.

“I’m proud of our kids and how they have handled the uncertainty,” Klipa said. “They are pushing each other and working hard. This is a high energy and fun group.”

The girls’ schedule is similar to their male counterparts, as they open the season against Rock Hill as part of the Milltown Basketball Classic Monday at home. The only difference will be that they won’t be playing in the MLK Basketball Showcase.

Fort Mill brings back several players from last season including seniors Paige Wasiela, Regan Hodge and Abby Snearly. They also return junior Nadia Dial, who along with Snearly, both top 6’0” and will be beneficial in the low post for the Jackets.

“We should do well this season,” Klipa said. “We have a lot of good young pieces. We got a lot of work to do.”

Klipa said she knows that they will be chasing Clover for a region title, as the Blue Eagles again will be the cream of the crop for the region.

Mac Banks:, @fortprep

The Fort Mill girls varsity team come into this season with a lot of youth and energy, which Heather Kilipa is excited about.