“Young” Lexington Wildcats men’s basketball squad looks to 2017-2018 season
Coach Bailey Harris says ball handling, high shooting efficiency a must for this year’s team
Lexington, SC (James Bowers) - The 2016-2017 Lexington Wildcats had a fine season. A 22-7 campaign saw them reach the third round of the SCHSL 5A Basketball playoffs (suffering a razor-thin defeat at the hands of familiar foe Blythewood), winning yet another Lake Murray Tip Off Tournament, and beating the likes of Irmo, Columbia, and Australia’s (yes think kangaroos) McKinnon. The bulk of Bailey Harris’ roster graduated shortly after that successful season, leaving Lexington’s head varsity men's hoops coach with a very young squad.
This year, the majority of his 2017-18 squad will be juniors, with only three returning lettermen: Mason Carver, Bradley Foulks, and Tyler Reed. The latter two have both missed substantial practice time with injuries. Reed in particular is still nursing a torn ACL suffered last season in a game against arch-rival White Knoll. Reed is also one of only a trio of seniors on the Wildcat varsity, and the only one with significant experience at the varsity level. “Like most Lexington teams, we’ll be a little undersized," Harris said, “We’ll need to shoot the ball well and have a high basketball IQ.”
Lexington will play in the hotly contested Region 5-5A, which features defending state runner-up Blythewood and the always strong Irmo Yellowjackets. LHS’ non-conference schedule boasts 4A Preseason No. 4 Aiken. “I don’t think there will be any nights off," Harris noted.
In a town traditionally dominated by baseball and football, Lexington basketball has always held its own. The Wildcats have appeared in six state championship games among nine semifinal runs, and won 13 region titles during Harris’ 30 year tenure. “(Basketball) has always carved out its niche,” says the coach.
Lexington’s 2017-2018 campaign began successfully in the Lake Murray Tip-Off tourney, with a 68-26 thrashing of C.A. Johnson on Monday, followed up by a 64-46 win over Airport the very next night. Lexington fell to in-district rivals River Bluff this week in the Lake Murray Tip-Off, a shocker since River Bluff had a lukewarm 2016-17 season and is rebuilding their squad after losing a number of their more experienced players.
From this point forward, only time and the scoreboard will tell how the season will go. Lexington has a tough slate ahead, but as always, they will play with heart and do their best to bring more basketball glory to the school known for its success in a variety of sports.