Goose Creek High School’s girls basketball program has won two of the last three Class 5A crowns and is in the conversation for another as the curtains come up on the 2019-20 season.
However, the Lady Gators have a rugged journey ahead trying to replace seven seniors and another projected starter that transferred out. Five of the outgoing seniors signed to play college basketball and four of those were athletic players around the basket.
The Lady Gators begin the season ranked No. 5 in the South Carolina Basketball Coaches Association’s top 10 poll behind Byrnes, Dorman, Sumter and Woodmont.
Goose Creek coach Tim Baldwin didn’t feel disrespected.
“Absolutely not,” he said. “To be honest, we’re tickled to death to be in the top 10. It shows we’ve still got a little bit of fuel in the tank. I don’t think anyone knows for sure who is the best team. I think across the state in 5A, there’s no one who is heads above the others. This is a little different from the past where there were one or two teams everybody knew as the team to beat. Somebody has to step up. We’ll see how it plays out.”
With seniors Aniyah Oliver and Kolia Adams returning, Goose Creek has a strong backcourt. Oliver, a point guard who has signed with Francis Marion, averaged 8.3 points and a team-high 3.6 assists last season. She’s the lone player who consistently started in 2018-19.
Adams contributed five points and 2.1 steals per game.
Two other projected starters are senior small forward Jakara Johnson and senior forward Janise Shaw. Junior Rachel Davis left for Summerville High School to play for her father Calvin Davis, opening up a spot for sophomore forward Hailey Curry, freshman guard Kai McGee or sophomore guard Sharriah Green, a transfer from West Ashley.
Green is quick and can get to the rim, allowing Oliver and Adams to get space to work from the wings.
“We’ve got some different options,” Baldwin said. “We don’t have any definite plans to who is going to start at the fifth spot. That’s our big question right now.”
Baldwin’s team has won 68 region games in a row. James Island and Wando look like squads capable of making the Lady Gators work to keep that streak alive. James Island is ranked No. 6 to start the season and Wando is tied for the 10th spot.