When fans think of Keenan basketball, it’s understandable if the first name to come up is boys basketball head coach Zach Norris, who has led the Raiders to seven state titles.
However, a fellow Keenan coach shouldn’t be too far behind when it comes to discussing all-time greats. Girls basketball head coach Reggie McLain captured his sixth state championship on Friday, March 4 when his Lady Raiders slipped past the Camden Lady Bulldogs 60-58.
McLain took over the girls’ program prior to the 2006-2007 school year. It didn’t take him long to find success, as the Lady Raiders won the state championship in McLain’s second season. That team laid the foundation for the dominant program Keenan has become.
“ That 2007-2008 team set the tone for the program,” McLain said. “Every team after that has experienced some postseason success. They were groundbreaking. From that point on everyone jumped on board.”
Since that first title, the Lady Raiders have become a mainstay at state championship games. In McLain’s 16 seasons, Keenan has played for nine state championships, winning six.
What is even more impressive is the run has spanned multiple graduation classes and jumps from the 2A to the 3A classifications.
“One thing the coaching staff does really well is recognizing where we need players, where our weaknesses will be,” McLain said. “We focus on that and see what’s coming from the middle school at those positions. We work on those skills and put the kids in position to fill those voids.”
Perhaps the best example of McLain and his staff’s ability to recognize talent is MiLaysia Fulwiley. Since her arrival at Keenan, the Lady Raiders have played for five straight state titles.
“She is extremely humble, and she has tremendous skills on the court,” McLain said. “She likes to have games where she has ten or more assists. As coaches we have challenged her to be more aggressive on offense.”
Despite all the success Keenan has had on the court, McLain says he keeps the coaches and players hungry by challenging the team with difficult non-region schedules.
“ When you have a team that has talent, you really go out and schedule in a way where they face some adversity,” McLain said. “ We have played powerhouse teams and in national showcases. We also look for the best competition in South Carolina as well.”
McLain says the Lady Raiders’ run has been unreal, something he can’t quite put into words. He has made a point of enjoying every moment.
He still has to win one more title to reach Norris, and he has one big ace up his sleeve. Fulwiley has one more season in high school.
Whether he reaches Norris or not remains to be seen. However, he has accomplished one milestone that Norris has not, winning three state titles in a row.
“We haven’t talked about winning three-in-a-row too much,” McLain said. “We’ve tried to take it one game at a time. But it means a lot to the school and everyone.”