No matter if you are undefeated or or still looking for that first win of the season, both Nation Ford and Fort Mill basketball teams, along with every other team in Region IV-5A, are on equal ground heading into this week.
This week opens region play for both Fort Mill and Nation Ford with each school looking to win the region. But if they come up short of that goal, at least a finish within the top four will qualify teams for the playoffs.
Fort Mill will open up play this week at Rock Hill with the girls’ team starting things off. The Bearcats should be one of the toughest teams in region play for the girls’ opponents. The Jackets enter region play with an 8-4 overall record coming off a third place finish at the Lowe’s Roundball Classic tournament over the holiday break. Fort Mill’s boys enter region play with a 5-6 overall record coming off a sixth place finish in the same tournament.
Both Fort Mill and Nation Ford will have eight region games and play each opponent twice. Fort Mill will have just one region opponent to during the first week of region play as the Jackets will also host an Australian travel team passing through South Carolina this week.
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The Jackets will host their first home region game against Clover Jan. 16.
Nation Ford will also open its region schedule hosting the Bearcats. They also host Clover Jan. 12. The Nation Ford-Rock Hill girls’ game will be interesting as both teams are ranked in the top 10 in the state with the Falcons being ranked seventh and Rock Hill being ranked eighth in the Dec. 12 polls from the state Basketball Coaches Association. The girls will start region play with a 9-4 record.
The Nation Ford boys are ranked third in the state in the same poll. Important rivalry games between Fort Mill and Nation Ford will be Jan. 23 and Feb. 9. Nation Ford will host Fort Mill Jan. 23 and Fort Mill will host the Falcons Feb. 9 in the last regularly scheduled game of the season for both squads. It could have major playoff implications for both schools.
The Fort Mill boys’ team has won the past two region titles, but Nation Ford was picked as a preseason favorite to win the title. However, the Falcons have struggled as of late and own just an 8-6 record in opening region play.
Mac Banks: email@example.com, @MacBanksFM