INDIAN LAND — Just two years removed from a trip to the Upper State Championship, the Warriors expect to rebound from a down season last year.
With a preseason eighth place ranking in the state, the Indian Land Warriors boys’ basketball team is carrying into the season some high expectations for the program.
Just two years removed from a trip to the Upper State Championship, the Warriors had a down season at 9-13 last year and a first round loss to Eau Claire in the playoffs.
Back this year are seven seniors, including Hayden Sawyer, Marty Cauthen and Cameron Davis, as well as three freshmen who could see significant playing time.
“This year’s team is a lot more balanced,” said head coach Nate Smith. “We have guard play and inside pressure as well.”
Smith said he will be moving some of his taller players into guard positions to get them prepared to play at the next level if that chance comes along.
One thing Indian Land should have this year is height as they have only two players less than six feet tall on the team. One is 5-foot-7 freshman point guard Shanwta Rogers, who should see some playing time. Another freshman expected to contribute is nearly a foot taller, 6’6” center Quantra Taylor.
The Warriors also have height in sophomore forward Brandon Barnes at 6’5” and 6’6” senior center Conner Butler.
“They both can run the floor like guards,” Smith said. “We are real quick and can get up and down the floor.”
Two years ago, the majority of this team shocked a lot of people by going to the Upper State championship as sophomores. Smith admitted that last year was a disappointment, but hopes maturity and experience will help them this year as seniors.
“I thought they would make the turn as juniors, but we hit a brick wall,” Smith said. Smith said the key to this year’s success is staying focused and he hopes that a tough non-Region schedule will help prepare them once Region IV-AA play begins.
“We did that on purpose to try and prepare them for the region,” he said.
The Warriors didn't do themselves any favors by opening the season Nov. 27 at York and then at Fort Mill, Friday.
They play their first home game against York Dec. 4 starting with the girls’ varsity game at 6 p.m.