St. James tops preseason poll; Carolina Forest No. 2

The St. James Sharks made a serious run at the Region 7-3A title last season before fading down the stretch, and this year they are favored to go the distance.

With six seniors and several returning starters, St. James is ranked No. 1 in the Coastal Basketball Coaches Association’s preseason poll, which was released this week.

Also ranked No. 8 in the state Class AAA poll, the Sharks look to improve on their 11-11 campaign that saw them finish third in the region. Seniors Caleb Duggan, Matt Strange and Brooks Hurston and juniors Dakota Holmes, Tyus Goodman and Tyrell Dukes bring back plenty of experience to warrant a No. 1 ranking in the area.

Taking the No. 2 spot is defending Region 6-4A champion Carolina Forest, but the Panthers have their work cut out for them to repeat. A total of eight seniors graduated from last season’s squad, including co-region player of the year Robert Gray.

Myrtle Beach captured the No. 3 spot in the poll, but the Seahawks lost their three leading scorers in Tramond Wilson, Emaray Joshson and EJ Goings. The Seahawks will look to Nolin Butler and Solomon Cooper for production to improve upon last year’s 14-12 campaign.

North Myrtle Beach is ranked No. 4, with seniors Jaquan Grissett and junior twins Josh and Matt Lindsey are back to give the Chiefs some scoring and experience, but an overall lack of height could be a concern in the paint.

Conway ties Class A power Carvers Bay for fifth on the list. The Tigers return seniors Kahmil Cooper, Malcolm Green and Trevon Longs to add some experience to their small lineup.

Region 7-3A members Georgetown and Socastee are picked to battle for the cellar of the league while Class A members Andrews and Aynor round out the top 10. The regular season gets under way this week.

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