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Robert E. Lee High School
Bishopville

Cavaliers back at full strength after football season

By C.R. Cumbee

Staff Writer

Bishopville—It was a solid season for the Robert E. Lee Academy boys’ basketball team in 2016-17, finishing second in the region. After dropping their first four games this season, the Cavaliers bounced back to defeat Marlboro Academy and Williamsburg Academy.

“My expectations are pretty high,” head coach T.J. Stack said. “We need to continue to develop team chemistry and make defense a priority. Our defense leads to our offense. Our M.O. is getting after it on defense and not letting up. If we do that, we can be pretty good.”

With the football team advancing to the state semifinals, several players missed the team’s opening three contests. One of those was senior point guard Bryce Barrett, arguably the best all-around player on the team. He’s averaging double digits in assists and rebounds to go with seven points per game.

“He’s been starting on varsity since his ninth grade year,” Stack said. “I’ve had some good players in my time coaching, but I’ve never had anybody quite like Bryce. He’s pretty dynamic and he can do a lot of things really well.”

Three other seniors are in the starting lineup as well. Billy Jackson is scoring nine points each night at center while forward Jamie Walker and wing Gavin Melton have been solid role players.

The lone underclassman in the initial rotation is sophomore guard Matthew Johnson. He played on the jayvee squad last year but has come on strong this season with a team-high 14 points.

“He’s got good size and he has improved drastically. He really put in the work. I’m not sure how good he can be, but if he continues to make strides like he did from his freshman to sophomore year, he can be pretty special,” Stack said.

Depth will be a huge factor for the Cavaliers down the stretch. Stack has played a number of players, including sophomores Jet Smith and Blane Hopkins and juniors Jordan Hodge, Stone Hodge and Nick Adelman. Hunter McGee, Justin Mott and Billy McLaughlin are others on the roster.

“It has already paid off against certain teams. I’ve been able to sub out three or four at a time easily. In the fourth quarter, we’re able to maintain without a huge drop off,” Stack said.

The Cavaliers will get into conference play after Christmas break. Their biggest threats are defending champion Palmetto Christian and Northside Christian, and Thomas Sumter could be another surprise team.

“Everybody is pretty even in our region and we’ll probably all knock each other off,” Stack said. “If we’re consistent shooting the ball and can play inside-out, that could be the difference.”

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