No program in the area has won more sectional championships than South Side with 29.
Yet it has been a dozen years since the Archers last hoisted a postseason trophy of any kind.
Could that drought end with this year’s team that is high on experience and talent?
Three of the team’s top five scorers return, let by talented senior Kamron Mitchell.
J.T. Langston Jr. led South in both points (11.9 ppg) and rebounds (7.1 rpg) a season ago. Unfortunately for the Archers, he moved to California in the offseason.
That puts the onus on Mitchell, who scored at an 11.7 points per game clip last year. His inside-out game was impressive last year but should on display even more this season after some development over the summer.
“Now that he has a year of varsity experience under his belt we hope to see his numbers increase and he can become a consistent option,” South Side coach JJ Foster said.
Mitchell will have help in the backcourt with junior Austin Jordan. The point guard led the team in assists per game (3.5) and returns with the second-best ppg average for the Archers at 8.7. Jordan is talented enough to facilitate to his teammates off the ball but also finish if defenses sag off of him in the half court or he sees a lane to get to the bucket.
“Austin is a two year varsity starter so we expect his experience along with his ability to be a key factor in our success this season,” said Foster.
Senior combo guard Treveon Jones gives South some versatility. He can play on the win or closer to the basket with his 6-foot-3 frame. He averaged 8.7 points and 4.4 rebounds last season.
Someone to keep an eye on his sophomore Ashton Johnson. The guard saw considerable playing time as a freshman and caught some attention with his play in spots. At 6-2, 220, Johnson gives the Archers a physical presence on the floor. A lot of the same can be said about fellow sophomore Jaylen Lattimore, who spent part of last season at Snider before a transfer. Lattimore has the ability to bring the ball up the court, drive physically or spot up and shoot.
South Side finished 11-9 last year but was crushed by Huntington North 53-32 in sectional play, a team the Archers beat in overtime just a few weeks prior. This year’s team brings back plenty of guard production, but will need to develop some guys in the post to clean up misses from the outside and to keep defenses honest.
Replacing the production lost when Langston Jr. moved will be paramount.
With Mitchell, Austin Jordan and an emerging sophomore in Ashton Johnson, South Side has some seriously-talented guards who can match up with anyone in the city in the backcourt. Provided those three continue to develop, South is going to give plenty of team’s problems.
WHY NOT HIGHER?
The questions in the post are many. With the Archers’ run-and-gun style, pure back-to-the-basket players are not a necessity. That said, Foster will need to find some guys who can hold down the inside. Until that happens, it is tough to rank South above some of the top teams in the SAC.
JAN. 10 VS. HOMESTEAD
Last season, South Side went on the road and battled with the Spartans right after the New Year, eventually falling by eight. That game was kind of a microcosm of the season, with the Archers playing great basketball for stretches, but then failing at the fundamentals at times.
With Homestead entering the season as the favorite in the SAC, South could make their mark as a league contender midway through the conference slate with a home win over the Spartans.
AUSTIN JORDAN, JUNIOR
Now two years into his prep career, expect Jordan to make a giant leap forward both in his skill set and as a leader.
Jordan is not much of a vocal kid, but he plays the point guard position, the quarterback of the offense. His play, both in terms of his scoring and his passing ability, will be key to South’s success.