High school hoops kick off tonight

The preseason basketball tournaments are done and it's time to get down to business.

Seven Herald-area public school teams begin the 2007-08 season, led by Fort Mill, the defending Class AAAA state champion.

Coach Bailey Jackson's team went 25-4 last season and beat favored Summerville in the title game. The Yellow Jackets start their defense on the road against Ridge View.

Fort Mill returns only one starter, 6-foot-7 center Chalmers Rogers, but was ranked No. 2 behind Spartanburg in the South Carolina Basketball Coaches Association's preseason poll.

"We had two players move in, but right now they are backups,'' Rogers said last Saturday. "Sure, I'll miss the four guys who graduated. But we have players back who played a lot of minutes last year, and I think we can be just as good.''

Northwestern's boys, ranked No. 10, travel to Spartanburg tonight. The Trojans are led by 6-7 center Tayler Shugart.

Spartanburg recently got bad news. Omar Sanders, a 6-8 center, is ineligible. According to the Spartanburg-Herald Journal, his guardians refused to sign his permission forms. The matter is under review and he could return.

Northwestern's girls area No. 8 in Class AAAA, their first ranking in at least 10 seasons. They are led by Kelia Shelton, Mary Kate DuBard and transfer Gabrielle Bennett, a 5-11 senior post player from Gastonia Ashbrook.

Spartanburg's girls are No. 2.

Indian Land's girls, No. 5 in Class A, open at home against York. The Lady Warriors were state runners-up last year, but all five starters graduated.

The boys' game features two teams on the rise. York made the playoffs for the first time in eight years last season.

South Pointe, whose boys are among the favorites in Region 3-AAAA, is on the road against Chester.

Clover's boys host Derita Christian tonight at 6. There will not be a girls' game.

South Pointe at Chester

Fort Mill at Ridge View

Northwestern at Spartanburg

York at Indian Land

Derita Christian at Clover

Lancaster at Andrew Jackson

Blessed Hope at Hawthorne