FORT MILL — With a chill in the air, the local sports focus is shifting indoors to the hardwood.
Both the Nation Ford and Fort Mill girls’ basketball programs will kick off their season next week as part of the Clover Optimist Tournament Nov. 26-27 and Nov. 29.
Coming off an 11-12 season, Nation Ford was picked to finish third in Region III behind Northwestern and Lancaster and will be returning senior pre-season Player of the Year Taylor Yarborough.
Lady Falcons’ head coach Mike Smith is optimistic about his team’s success this season.
“There are three things this team is showing already – teamwork, hard work and enthusiasm,” he said. “They are getting work in and getting the job done. We are excited about the opportunities.”
Smith said his squad is young with four freshmen and an eighth-grader on the roster. Alongside those young faces, Nation Ford will return seven players from last year’s squad. Besides Yarborough, they will have seniors Zippy Lincoln and juniors Jessie Raniszewski and Ryan Richardson.
Richardson is coming off a season lost with a torn ACL.
Smith said he is looking to other players to take the pressure off of Yarborough, so she won’t be counted on to do it all for the team like she had to in the past.
“I am real excited for someone with the potential Taylor has,” Smith said. “The team dynamic this year is tremendous. It makes people want to work harder.”
New head coach for Fort Mill
Coming off a 9-14 season, Fort Mill will be under the leadership of new head coach, Brett Childers, who arrived from South Pointe during the off season. Childers is in his 12th year overall and ninth as a head coach. His team has been picked to finish seventh in Region III.
His squad is also young, with just three seniors, including guard/forward Arianna Grevious.
“We are looking for a big year from her,” Childers said. “She has been tremendous for us in this transition.”
Another player Childers is looking for big things from is sophomore Madison Hendrix.
Fort Mill has seven newcomers to this year’s team and Childers said his goals are cut and dry.
“We want to have a winning record, compete for a region championship and make the playoffs,” he said. “They have good talent here and I feel like we can have a good squad.”
Childers said he hopes a tough nonregion schedule will prepare his team for region play starting in December.