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South Warren junior guard Tayshaun Jones shoots against Warren Central during the Dragons’ 79-74 win Jan. 28 at South Warren.

Editor’s note – This is the 10th in a 16-part series of high school basketball previews counting down to the scheduled opening night of the regular season Jan. 4.

First-year South Warren boys’ basketball coach Jason Holland feels like he has inherited a team that can be one of the best in the region.

But he’s facing the same dilemma he faced at his last job as girls’ coach at Shelby County High School, finding a way to get out of a tough district.

South Warren’s program has never accomplished that task since it began in 2010, but Holland feels like he may have the pieces to break through and have a season to remember for the Spartans.

“I talked to a coach last night and I said, ‘We could win your region,’ ” Holland said. “I told him that in some regions we would be one of the top two teams to win the region, but unfortunately we are in the Fourth and a district that probably has three or four of the top five or six teams in the region. It makes it a challenge when the district is so strong.

“The good news for me is I am coming from a district that was strong. The three Oldham Counties, there were years where all three of us were 1-2-3 in the Eighth. I’m used to that kind of pressure.”

Holland inherits a team that loses leading scorer Jace Carver to Warren Central, but does return senior point guard Tayshaun Jones. Jones averaged nearly 10 points a night as a junior and was second on the team in rebounding.

“Tayshaun is good on both ends of the floor,” Holland said. “That’s what makes him so valuable for us. He’s going to dictate a lot of things we do on both ends. He’s not one-dimensional. He values the defensive end of the floor. That really helps us.”

South Warren’s leading rebounder, junior Caden Veltkamp, also returns. Holland said he is excited about what Veltkamp will bring to the team, saying he could see a scenario where Veltkamp will be asked to run the offense.

“Watching Caden in practice, he has to be a top-10 player in the region in basketball,” Holland said. “If there are nine kids better than him than this region is really, really good.”

The Spartans will have plenty of size to go with Jones and Veltkamp. Malachi Reynolds is a 6-foot-2 senior transfer from Florida who should help out in the frontcourt.

Juniors Luke Burton and Joel Davis and seniors Nathan Neal and Jason Putman are also back to give the Spartans plenty of depth.

“I’m just anxious to see if there is a team as big as us,” Holland said. “It’s the biggest team I have had since I have been a head coach. Our smallest guys are Tayshaun and Luke and they are 6-0 and 6-1, but they both have incredible length and they both can play above the rim. I feel like it is going to be a strength for us.”

Holland is excited about the mix of talent on the Spartans roster and is hopeful that this is the year South Warren can break through and advance to the Region 4 tournament.

“Our goal is to get to the region tournament,” Holland said. “We want our kids to get there. We’ve got a lot of young kids. Getting there would be a boost in the arm going into the offseason for us pushing forward to next year.”{&end}

– Follow prep sports reporter Micheal Compton on Twitter @mcompton428 or visit bgdailynews.com.

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