YORK -- The season begins anew when the York Comprehensive High School basketball teams travel to Gaffney Friday night.
The Region 3-AAAA opener begins with varsity the girls game at 6:30 p.m., with boys action slated for 8 p.m.
Cougar head coach Kendall McCarter told his players to wipe everything off the slate.
"It's time for us to do the things that make us successful," McCarter said. "We need to play aggressive defense when we open region play at Gaffney.
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"We score off our defense when we're playing our game."
McCarter said Gaffney is a tough place to open region play.
"They have another good team, very athletic," he said. "You want to win your home games in the region and steal a couple on the road."
Sophomore standout Zach Sharp shares his coach's views regarding region play.
"The key for us Friday night is to play good defense and play team ball," Sharp said after a 95-77 loss to Spartanburg in the Dome last Friday.
Sharp's two monster slams and shot rejection got the York crowd going in a fourth quarter scoring spree.
Said Sharp, "We were able to break the defense a couple times, which opened things up for the slam dunks."
McCarter said the Cougars lacked defensive intensity against Spartanburg.
"We can't give up that many points and expect to be successful," he said. "At least it wasn't a region game. I reminded the players of that."
The home-standing Cougars came alive in the fourth quarter, scoring 38 points.
Jerry Holmes paced the scoring with 17 points. Brandon Hagins and Anthony Renwick each scored 12, Sharp 11 and Azivelle Smith nine.
The Cougars fell to Central 75-71 in the consolation final of last month's Farm Bureau Classic at Chesterfield.
The YCHS boys rallied in the fourth quarter but were unable to get over the hump to secure the win.
Sophomore sharp-shooter Jerry Holmes solidified his spot on the all-tournament team with a 35-point performance. Brandon Hagins scored nine points.
Lady Cougars enter region play battle-tested
YORK -- The Lady Cougars hope to reap the benefits of a grueling December schedule as region play begins Friday.
The schedule to date has included a win over highly-rated Spring Valley, two games with Big 16 member Spartanburg and high-level teams in the Beach Ball Classic.
"We've played a schedule we feel will make us better prepared for region play," reasoned head coach Paula Blackwell.
Junior floor leader Erika Shannon agrees.
"I'm glad we played strong teams leading up to region play," commented Shannon. "We learn more about our team facing tough competition."
Shannon said aggressive defensive play is the key to success in region play.
Teammate Tikierra Anderson, a major force in the post, said facing tough opposition makes the team better.
"We need to make more shots and will continue to play tough in the post," she said.
The Lady Cougars fell to visiting Spartanburg in a 56-54 nail-biter in the Dome last Friday.
"We let it slip away," Blackwell said afterwards. "We had missed shots and free throws but the effort was there."
Said Anderson of the narrow loss, "We played hard against Spartanburg but needed to make more shots."
Shannon agreed, stating, "It was a tough loss. We missed some easy baskets late in the game. We have to stay focused."
Blackwell recognizes the team's potential the remainder of the season.
"When everybody's doing their job, we can be successful against any team we play," she said. "We need a higher energy level when we begin region play Friday.
"We need to play with intensity for 32 minutes."
Anderson continued her aggressive post play against Spartanburg, scoring a game-high 15 points.
Shannon scored 13 points, Brittney Merriweather 9, Hikeya Davis 8 and Gina Patton 7.