2013-14 High School Girls Basketball Preview: Strong Hilton Head Island High School team aims to continue run of success

ccox@islandpacket.comNovember 29, 2013 

Hilton Head Island High's Americal Jenkins, left, and Lauryn Bush are two of the key pieces for the Seahawks as they prepare to tip off the 2013-14 high school girls basketball regular season.

DELAYNA EARLEY — Delayna Earley Buy Photo

The blueprint for consistency seemingly can be found inside the Hilton Head Island High gymnasium.

Once there, one will find a Seahawks girls basketball team that has qualified for seven consecutive postseasons, earning wins in four of those appearances, while managing to win region championships in three of the last five years. All of it has come thanks to the steady hand of coach Dave Greenberg and a usual cast of standouts.

"When I came in, we won one game my first year," said Greenberg, who is entering his 10th year at the helm of the program. "(Since then) I think we've become a pretty competitive team that people know you're going to have to work hard to beat."

None of that appears on track to change in 2013-14. The Seahawks welcome back a trio of starters -- including Americal Jenkins, an Island Packet and Beaufort Gazette all-area selection -- and anticipate the arrival of several new faces ready to put their stamp on the program.

"I think short term, we want to go (win the) region and obviously get deep in the playoffs, if not states," junior guard Lauryn Bush said. "Long term, we just want to develop a good program to leave behind as a legacy."

Bush will team with Jenkins to lead this season's group, which is coming off an 18-8 showing a year ago. The guard's progress likely will be slow early on as she continues to distance herself from the ACL injury she suffered in February, but Greenberg still has high expectations for her fourth year in the system.

"She can do a lot of things for us that other kids can't do," he said. "For one thing, she's a big guard. She's not a small kid. It helps us match up a lot sometimes."

Hilton Head High is hoping Bush can lighten the load for Jenkins, who plans to see several double-teams this year after leading the Seahawks with 12.8 points and 12.7 rebounds a year ago. Point guard Savannah Reier also will add a boost, as the sophomore returns from the football field looking to improve on the 3.3 assists and 4.4 steals she averaged as a freshman.

"I have developed a lot, but if they come and double-team me, that's what I've got good teammates for," Jenkins said. "If they double-team me, someone else is always open."

Jenkins has shown no signs of letting up this season. She ripped down 19 rebounds in a recent scrimmage with Battery Creek and has added some much-needed muscle to fight off others in the paint.

"I think she can finish in different ways at the basket now," Greenberg said. "She's stronger than she was last year. ... She's still got a ways to go, but she's on the verge of being pretty good."

The trio, which will be joined by returners Rachel Friend and Brennan O'Gorman, will play the role of teachers early in the season as the Seahawks see the arrival of seven players off the junior varsity team. Bluffton High transfer Tiffany Banks also will need time to learn the Hilton Head High system, Greenberg said.

"Our goal is just to play hard," Jenkins said. "We've got a lot of young players this year, so we're trying to get them ready and get them better for next year."

Hilton Head High doesn't expect the youth movement to hinder its success, despite the Seahawks taking on another challenging Atlanta tournament and perennial power Orangeburg-Wilkinson in region play without a single senior on the roster.

Continued consistency is the only goal for the reliable Seahawks.

"I think we have a chance to be competitive with everybody," Greenberg said. "We've got some kids who can really play."

Girls Basketball 2013-14 team previews

BATTERY CREEK

Region 6-AA

Coach: Bernadette Ulmer (Fourth year, 35-25)

2012-13 results: 17-9 overall, 9-5 region

Notable losses: Alexandria Bazemore; Khadajah Badger

Top returning players: G Daisja Cannon, Sr.; C Ericka Alston, Jr.; F Elizabeth Ford, Jr.; G/F Brianna Tolbert, Fr.

Key newcomers: G Taniqua Mangin, Soph.

Strengths: Speed and ability to transition between plays

Weaknesses: Lack of depth on the bench

Coach's prognosis: "The Lady Dolphins are looking to improve our region record as well as to make the playoffs and advance past the second round," Ulmer said.

BEAUFORT ACADEMY

SCISAA Region 1-AA

Coach: Brock Vaigneur (First year)

2012-13 results: 10-12 overall

Notable losses: Megan Debartaleban; Kiana Fortner; Charlotte Delfosse

Top returning players: G Miranda Weslake; F Anna Dyer; G Carli Cline

Key newcomers: F Bridget Baggerly; F Casey Kahn; G Amanda Kahn; G Mary Kean; G Hope Gray

Strengths: Defense, speed, agility

Weaknesses: Youth

Coach's prognosis: "Win our conference," Vaigneur said.

BEAUFORT HIGH

Region 8-AAAA

Coach: Reginald Jones (First year)

2012-13 results: 1-20 overall

Notable losses: None

Top returning players: G Mattie Hibbs, Soph.; F/C Regina Bolden, Sr.; F Jasmine Wallace, Sr.; F/C Kaitlin Hamilton, Jr.

Key Newcomers: Breanna Heyward, Soph.; Lilly Allen, Soph.; Naijuia Moyd, Fr.

Strengths: Speed and experience with nine returning players

Weakness: Height and Inexperience in starting positions

Coach's prognosis: "Improve with each game, looking to improve on last year's record," Jones said. "Win some region games, play hard, show good sportsmanship and be in every game to the end."

BLUFFTON

Region 8-AAAA

Coach: Lonnie Roberts (10th year, 132-133 overall, 104-109 at Bluffton)

2012-13 results: 6-15 overall, 3-7 Region 8-AAAA

Notable losses: Monique Whitley

Top returning players: G Diamon Smalls,Jr.; F Johnnie Gaston, Sr.; G Dynasty Mervin, Sr.; G Autumn Card, Jr.

Key newcomers: F Evian Mitchell, Jr.; G Baylor Davis, Fr.; G Erin Doering, Jr.; F Shakeria Bryant,Sr.

Strengths: Defense, quickness and hustle to win games

Weaknesses: Young and inexperienced

Coach's prognosis: "Being young and experienced doesn't calculate too much and in a region and a higher classification," Roberts said. "Bluffton expects to take a step up with five returning starters, but look for the team to remain competitive in region play and to get better with time."

HILTON HEAD CHRISTIAN ACADEMY

SCISAA Region 3-AAA

Coach: Kenny Conroy (Third year, 32-23)

2012-13 results: 19-10 overall, 8-4 SCISAA Region 3-AAA

Notable losses: None

Top returning players: Audrey Bensch, Sr.; Frencesca Guidobono, Sr.; Alexis Evanofski, Sr.; Ziaira Doe, Soph.; Macee Tamminen, Fr.; Andy Anderson, Jr.; Monica Bundy, Jr.; Hannah Reynolds, Jr.; Brian McCarthy, Jr.

Key newcomers: Callie Haertel, Fr.; Alina Manuel, Fr.

Strengths: Depth, quickness and cohesiveness

Coach's prognosis: "If all players players stay healthy, HHCA looks to have a successful season and make a strong showing in the SCISAA 3-A state tournament," Conroy said.

HILTON HEAD ISLAND HIGH

Region 8-AAA

Coach: Dave Greenberg (10th year, 121-107)

2012-13 results: 18-8 overall, lost in second round of Class 3-A playoffs

Notable losses: F Shy Flemming, G Austin Seelbach, F Zion Campbell

Top returning players: F Americal Jenkins (12.8 ppg, 12.7 rpg), Jr.; G Lauryn Bush (12.3 ppg, 3.5 apg, 5.5 spg), Jr.; G Savannah Reier (3.3 apg, 4.4 spg), Soph.; G Rachel Friend, Jr.; G Brennan O'Gorman, Jr.

Key newcomers: G Tiffany Banks (Bluffton High); F Sarah Slawson, Soph.; G Arantza Macarena, Soph.; G Kelly Mianowski, Soph.; G Shealyn Jenkins, Fr.; F DaNesha Miller, Fr.; G Sydney Segars, Fr.; G Arianna Serpe, Fr.

Strengths: Five returning starters, four of which are in their fourth year with the program

Weaknesses: Size, lack of experience amonst new players

Coach's prognosis: "May be difficult in (the) beginning with so many young and inexperienced players, as well as a key player (Bush) returning from serious injury," Greenberg said. "But (we) do have several very talented players who will be counted on heavily. Need to stay healthy, especially until young players develop."

HILTON HEAD PREP

SCISAA Region 3-AAA

Coach: Dan Sheehan (Second year, 0-3)

2012-13 results: 0-3, cancelled remainder of season following player attrition

Notable losses: Jill Brunori; Grace Anderson

Top returning players: None

Key newcomers: Carley Willey, Soph.; Kate Herman, Soph.; Maddie McDonald, Soph.; Catherine Sheehan, Fr.; Cori Leonard, Fr.; Alex Wynne, Fr.; Foster Willey, Fr.; Kendall Smith, Fr.

Strengths: Dolphins' roster developed game at junior varsity level last season

Weaknesses: None of the eight players on the Prep roster have varsity experience

Coach's prognosis: "After not fielding a varsity girls basketball team last season, we are very excited about competing at the varsity level this year," Sheehan said. "We will be a very young team made up of eight girls from last year's JV team. We will have five freshmen and three sophomores on our squad this year. We will work hard to be fundamentally sound and try to minimize our mistakes."

RIDGELAND-HARDEEVILLE

Region 6-AA

Coach: Frederick Toomer

No information provided

THOMAS HEYWARD ACADEMY

SCISAA Region 1-AA

Coach: Roy Pryor

No information provided

WHALE BRANCH

Region 5-A

Coach: Wilbert Bryant (Fourth year, 38-26)

2012-13 results: 20-4 overall, lost in third round of Class 1-A playoffs

Notable losses: S'Nitra Mack (19 ppg, 10 rpg); Kenyada Moultrie (8 ppg, 4 apg)

Top returning players: G Kemoni Jenkins (18 ppg, 8 apg), Jr; F Jonae Riley, Soph.

Key newcomers: F Shaniqua Johnson, Jr.

Strengths: Strong defensively, team chemistry

Weaknesses: Freshman are still learning the system

Coach's prognosis: "Overall, our main goal this year is to advance further in the state playoffs than we did last year," Bryant said.

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