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Andrew Jackson Academy Boys & Girls Basketball Teams Expect Strong Finish to 2019-20 Basketball Season

By Billy Baker

Publisher

Summerton—Both the Andrew Jackson Academy boy’s and girls’ basketball teams are having their best seasons respectively in a long time with the boy’s approaching 20 wins for the time in memory and with the girl’s team a recent win at Clarendon Hall on January, 24 saw their record improve to 8-9 on the season.

Both teams are looking forward to the upcoming SCISA playoffs.  

Josh Barnes is his 10th season with the boy’s program and Julie Sease is in her third year with the AJA varsity girls’ team. We will review the boy’s team first:

As of January 25, the AJA boys are 18-5 and 4-2 in the region. After losing to Clarendon Hall by a mere four points a week earlier, the rematch at Clarendon Hall was an opportunity for AJA to win by five and clinch a region title on the 24th of this month. In novels it is often said that the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry, and they did on the road against the Saints.

When the game was finally over Clarendon Hall had won 102-58 and there was some tension among fans, but no issues at all much between the players. The facts as witnessed by this reporter is that down by forty starting the final period Coach Barnes cleared his bench completely with just over three minutes to go and he expected to see Clarendon Hall do the same with their bench. While a few subs were put in for CH, a starter or two remained in the game until the final seconds.

After the game the Clarendon Hall coach explained to the HSSR that he was only leading by 14 at the half and since Anderson Christian had beat AJA by around 22 points a few weeks ago he wanted to make sure his  team won by 23 or more points so he did not sub as much. The top three teams in SCISA Class A boys’ basketball are Clarendon Hall, Andrew Jackson Academy, and Anderson Christian. The HSSR did not interview Coach Barnes after the game with CH.  

The leading scorers for AJA against Clarendon Hall were James Mingo with 30 points, with Mikey Templeton and Johnathan Schaffer each contributing 10 points and senior guard Chandler Hayden had 9.

A day before the rematch game with CH Coach Barnes had an extensive interview with the HSSR. “Being an old school coach, I am starting to realize more and mor that the days of packing in your defenses and playing zone are being challenged by those teams who shoot a lot of three’s,” he said. “Teams like Clarendon Hall and Anderson Christian do a good job of making three’s and it is forcing us to rethink how we play defense.”

In all honesty a team can “live by the three” or “die by the three” when they are not on and rims vary from gyn to gyn for sure.

The top four scorers on the AJA boys’ team through the 24th of January are Mingo at 18.2 points and 6.2 rebounds a game followed closely by talented Mikey Templeton at 16.8 points and 10.5 rebounds a game. Schaffer, a hard-0 nosed defensive specialist, is also getting 14.3 points and 8.8 rebounds a game. Senior guard Chandler Hayden is 6-3 and very fluid on the court and he would like to get a walk-on offer at Francis Marion College. Hayden is averaging 11.1 points, 8 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 2.1 steals a game and his unselfishness is very visible when he plays.  

Jeb Ficklin (6-6, 180) started against Clarendon Hall and the big man is getting better with every game. Other key reserves off the bench include guards Colyn Peek, Trey Pulaski and Bryce Hughes.

“We have a lot of basketball yet to play,” said Coach Barnes prior to the game with CH. In fact, both teams will play seven game over the next two weeks so get out your gas cards. AJA will host Jefferson Davis Academy on January 27th before an away game with Dorchester Academy on the 28th.  AJA will host Holly Hill Academy on the 29th and then host a very good St. Johns Christian team on Feb. 3rd. On the 4th AJA goes to Colleton prep and then travels to JDA on the 6th.

Then the school will host senior night on Valentine’s Day hosting Patrick Henry. The regular season ends on the 15th with an away game at Beaufort Academy. This year the AJA know they are making the Class A playoffs unlike wondering like they have done in the past two seasons. Progress is being made as the program has made one giant leap forward.

AJA Girls’ Basketball Team Vastly Improved Under Head Coach Julie Sease

On January 24 the AJA girls used quickness and a pressure defense to defeat the Lady Saints 65-37.

It was the 8th win for AJA (8-9) on the season which is as well as they have done going back at least 10 years. Laney Stanfield, a 5-10 sophomore, led the team with 20 points and 14 rebounds including excellent work on defense. She is an HSSR-All-State candidate this season. Kaylee Carter had 11 points while Brinna Templeton led the defense with six steals.

In an earlier season game at AJA Coach Sease was coaching against her alma mater and she seemed to be coaching and playing the game at the same time as she coached standing up most of the game. Her team won their fourth game of the season 58-39 over Richard Winn in what was probably their best effort of the season. Since that confidence building win the AJA girls team has been playing much better as a team. 

Laney Stanfield led AJA with 20 points against Richard Winn. Brinna Templeton had 12 points and Hannah Scharber was third in scoring with 8 points.  

“This was a great win against my former coach (Sam Copeland), and the school I graduated from, so my girls have been working hard preparing for this game and we really wanted to have a victory tonight,” said Coach Sease. “This win felt good. We have a young team with one senior and two juniors. We hope we can continue playing the rest of the season like we played tonight.”

Kaylee Carter and Avery Peek are quick guards and good ball handlers starting along with Stanfield, Templeton, and Scharber.

“If we can just keep our heads on and continue to work hard, I feel like we can make a good run in the playoffs,” said Coach Sease. “We have made steady improvement and we have grown a lot as a team.”

 

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