The Daniel High girls basketball team began its season by sweeping past three opponents and winning the Lady Raider Thanksgiving Invitational at Greenville High.
The Lions, No. 6 in Class AAA in the South Carolina Basketball Coaches Association preseason rankings, beat No. 7 Blue Ridge (61-32) and two Class AAAA schools, Mauldin (41-34) and, in the championship game, Hillcrest (66-45).
Daniel made it to the third round of the Class AAA playoffs last year before being eliminated by eventual state champion Lower Richland. Lions coach Cosandar Griffin said she used the tournament to establish an inside game.
“We lost to Lower Richland last year because we didn’t have an inside game,” Griffin said. “I told them when we came to this tournament we were going to have to get the ball to our post players. They came to life, and I am proud of that.”
Xavier White, a 5-foot-10 senior, led the inside assault. Griffin said White has stepped up this season and is having the best year of her high school career.
“She is doing everything we want her to do,” Griffin said. “She takes the ball to the basket, rebounds and boxes out.”
Although she sat out the second quarter against Hillcrest, White finished with 11 points. Myranda Parham led Daniel with 23 points.
In Griffin’s scheme of things, it’s not about how many points Daniel scores, but how few the Lions allow opponents.
“We stress defense every day in practice,” Griffin said. “We don’t worry about offense.”
There are seven returnees from the 2012-13 team, and Griffin said the team’s goal is to go all the way to the state championship game. She said she expects to see Lower Richland again this year.
“We are looking to go farther than last year. For us to do that, we have got to be aggressive on defense,” Griffin said. “I think we will see Lower Richland again. We saw them at camp this summer, and it doesn’t look like they lost anything.”
Daniel followed its tournament success with victories against Pickens (57-20) and Greenville (55-40) to improve to 5-0.