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Wando senior Sam Laydon leads the Warriors with an average of 13 points per game this season.

High school basketball teams often talk about turning some sort of proverbial corner as the region schedule approaches. Wando was just as guilty.

It’d been a long winter so far. The Warriors had won just three of their first 15 games and stretched a seven-game slide through the holidays into the new year. Five of those losses were against opponents ranked top-10 in the state. Optimism that these early-season struggles might be worth it in the end, that it was preparation for the upcoming region schedule, was really all that Wando had left to lean on. There seems, however, to have been some truth in that hope.

The Warriors will enter the final two weeks of the regular season locked in a three-way tie for first place in Region 7-AAAAA. Wando, James Island and Goose Creek each went 4-2 through their first six region games. The once lowly Warriors aren’t just in playoff contention, they’re in line to make a realistic run at the region championship.

“I think the guys realized that they had a chance to start over,” Wando coach Chris Warzynski said. “Now we have a chance to win the region, yeah, but we also have a chance to not make the playoffs. So how we handle business from now on will determine that.”

Wando has shortened its bench as the season has progressed. The Warriors were once playing nine, 10, sometimes even 11 guys but now roll out seven or eight. A lot of that has to do with the defense those seven or eight are playing. Wando is allowing opponents an average of 51 points per game this season. But in their four region wins, the Warriors surrendered just 38.5.

Wando isn’t huge inside, but neither is the rest of the region. Warriors junior Jackson Lewandowski leads the conference with nearly two blocks per game. The 6-foot-6 forward is averaging a dependable seven points and seven rebounds. He’s logged four double-doubles this season and four games with at least three blocks.

“We’ve done a good job of controlling the middle,” Warzynski said. “Play every possession, defensive rebounding and limiting turnovers — those were the three things we wanted to work on. We’ve done a pretty good job of that so far in the region.”

Senior guard Sam Laydon leads the Warriors’ offensive efforts, as he has the length of the season, scoring 13 points per game. He scored 20 on just 10 shots in the Warriors’ region-opening, 12-point win at Berkeley — the Warriors’ first over the Stags since 2010. Wando beat Berkley by 10 points at home last week, marking the first time the Warriors have swept the Stags in a season series since the 2008-09 season.

The Warriors will finish their region slate with three of their final four games on the road, visiting Stratford, Goose Creek and Cane Bay before closing out the regular season at home against James Island.

“We’re entering another tough stretch of our schedule but I really like the atmosphere around the team right now,” Warzynski said. “Guys are pulling for each other. They’re believing in this team. They’re playing for wins and not their stats and that’s a huge part of it.”

The top two seeds out of Region 7 will host in the opening round of the playoffs. Ties in the region standings will be decided by the head-to-head matchups first, then by a points system if necessary.

SCBCA state rankings Class AAAAA boys

1. Dorman

2. Mauldin

3. Irmo

4. Northwestern

5. Byrnes

6. Wade Hampton

7. Fort Dorchester

8. Ashley Ridge

9. Dutch Fork

10. River Bluff

Class AAAAA girls

1. Clover

2. Irmo

3. Goose Creek

4. Westside

5. Sumter

6. TL Hanna

7. Wando

8. Rock Hill

9. Spartanburg

10. Byrnes

Class AAA boys

1. Keenan

2. Bishop England

3. Seneca

4. Georgetown

5. Marion

6. Union County

7. Chapman

8. Ridgeland-Hardeeville

9. Indian Land

10. Woodruff

Class AAA girls

1. Marion

2. Bishop England

3. Keenan

4. Manning

5. Dillon

6. Camden

7. Seneca

8. Woodruff

9. Clinton

10. Southside

Class AA boys

1. Gray Collegiate

2. Lee Central

3. Christ Church

4. Whale Branch

5. Greer Middle College

6. North Charleston

7. East Clarendon

8. Abbeville

9. Andrew Jackson

10. Johnsonville

Class A boys

1. Charleston Math & Science

2. Great Falls

3. Wagener -Salley

4. Scott’s Branch

5. Military Magnet

6. McCormick

The class rankings listed above include local teams. Visit moultrienews.com/sports for full state basketball rankings.

8. HKT

9. High Point Academy

10. Dixie

Class A girls

1. Estill

2. Scott’s Branch

3. Lake View

4. Military Magnet

5. Timmonsville

6. High Point Academy

7. Cross

8. McCormick

9. Denmark-Olar

10. Blackville-Hilda