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East Clarendon High School

Fans No Longer Leaving After East Clarendon Girl’s Games As Coach Barron has His team Undefeated In Region Play 

By Billy G. Baker


Tuberville—It was just a few years ago that at the conclusion of a girls’ basketball game at East Clarendon there would be a mass exit to the parking lot and maybe 30 per cent of the fans hung around to watch the boys’ varsity play.

Well, head boys coach Seneca Barron has come up with a solution for that problem. Just build a winning boys’ team and they will stay because you already know they packed it out for the state ranked girls playing just before your game.

As of January 24th, the EC boys are 13-3, state ranked, and a perfect 6-0 in the region. The fans are hanging around to support the boy’s team as well.

The leading scorers at this point in the season include senior point guard Tyihai Calvin who has 172 points, 109 rebounds, 47 steals, and 87 assists to lead the team in three categories. Shooting guard Jonquil Wilson is at 134 points and 72 rebounds while small forward Keyon Wilson has 145 points and 79 rebounds to his credit. Point guard Jalen Bennett has 94 points and center Marquis Pearson has 122 points and a team leading 147 rebounds.

Some key players off the bench include Landon Strickland with 107 points and Nicolas McFadden and Kyle Odom who has 23 rebounds. 

“Our first goal is just to improve each and every day in practice,” said Coach Barron.  “Our team strengths are we have some players who play really well on defense and we have players who are good at creating their own shots.

“We are still trying to improve our free throw shooting and developing depth from the bench,” said Coach Barron. “In terms of goals and expectations we would like to win a region championship and winning a state title is our ultimate goal.”

The team had a big region win over Andrews at home on January 24th the same night Dawn Staley stuck her head in the door to watch Super Sophomore Talaysia Cooper play on the girl’s team.

In fact, Coach Staley might have been the only person that left the gym once the girl’s game was over. The next challenge is to find a boy player with the same ability as Cooper and maybe Coach Staley could carpool with Frank martin starting next year ensuring that they both must stay for each game.




Number Two Ranked East Clarendon Focused On Remaining Key Region Games Starting With Mullins On January 24th, Christ Church Ranked Number One With Top AA Teams All Serious Contenders

By Billy G. Baker


Tuberville—The number two AA HSSR ranked East Clarendon (14-4) girls’ basketball team gained some valuable experience playing in the Beach Ball Classic in Myrtle Beach over the holidays competing well against two well-respected larger schools from North Carolina.

The AA HSSR girls ranking (as of January 22) has Christ Church number one and the Cavaliers are reigning state champions coached by Janet Vicks. Christ Church is led by 5-11 Super Sophomore McCall King (20 points & 6.3 rebounds a game) and talented freshman inside player Yamene Clark averaging a doube-double with 13.1 points and 11.3 rebounds a game to go along with senior point guard leader Marissa Powe.who is averaging 13.8 points with four assists and four steals per game.

East Clarendon (the subject of this AA feature) is number two. Latta (8-4) is a strong number three having beat both East Clarendon and Mullins. Jeanette Wilder has her Saluda Tigers (11-1) with Andrew Jackson (13-1) at number five.

Saluda is led by a pair of juniors in forward Kalisha Hill (16.5 points and 9.6 rebounds) along with guard Tiara Daniels (9.3 points). One of nations top 7th graders is 6-1 Tamia Watkins, who is leading Andrew Jackson with 11 points and 9 rebounds a game. Look for feature articles on Mullins, Latta, Saluda, Kingstree and Barnwell elsewhere in this issue.

As the HSSR was going to press on Friday January 24th the Lady Wolverines were seeking redemption, and to stay in the region hunt, with a home game against rival Mullins. The Lady Auc’s lost twice to EC during the Wolverines undefeated run in the region last season. However, in the Lower State finals at the Florence Civic Center they used a second half rally to advance to the finals where they lost to Christ Church. EC won the Class A state title two years, moved up to AA last season, and the lost to Mullins left a bitter taste with all the EC players and fans. Mullins lost in an upset against Carvers Bay on January 21 possibly peeking ahead to their big game with EC three days later.

As a tune-up for such highly competitive games against Mullins, plus a rematch at home against Latta on January 28, EC came out of the Beach Ball Classic bettered focused on the rest of the season despite going 0-3. At home on January 21st EC crushed Andrews 70-20 as four players scored in double figures. Senior 5-10 power forward Valincia Garris, who missed all her junior season with a torn ACL Garris scored 17 points and grabbed 25 bounds in the region win. Senior 6-2 center Rhamey Floyd contributed 17 points as did Amyia Rush making her first start of the season at a guard spot. Rush was five-for-five on three- point shots. National sophomore point guard prospect Talaysia Cooper had only 12 points against the Jackets, but she displayed her unselfishness with 10 assists and 16 rebounds.

“When we played Ashley High out of Wilmington there were 8 major college head coaches, or their top assistant, at the game including South Carolina, Georgia, Clemson, Kentucky, and North Carolina,” said East Clarendon head coach Mike Lowder. “Talaysia (Cooper) had 39 points in the game and the other top recruit for Ashley High (Taniya Rivers) had 29 points so the college coaches were loving watching that game no doubt seeing two of the better players in the nation competing against each other.”

In their next game at the Beach Ball EC lost 59-40 AAAA Myers Park from the Charlotte area and Cooper had 18 points and 12 rebounds and she was tripled teamed the whole game.

“I would say the Beach Ball Classic was great exposure for Talaysia but over-all it was a grind for our team because we had to get up at 6:30 in the morning on the final day of the event for a very early game, and on the other two days we left at 11 a.m. for afternoon games in Myrtle Beach (160 mile round trip),” said Coach Lowder. “As a small rural school, we just didn’t have the funds to stay in a motel, along with associated eating out expenses for three days.

“On the third day we had an early morning game against Manning, a larger school about 15 miles from East Clarendon, and I am not lying, getting on the bus for the third day in a row, with a group of teenagers at 6:30 in the morning, on that final day of the event, was not a good experience for anyone on our team,” said Coach Lowder. “We were tired and worn out on that third day for sure. Our girls fought hard, and we were very competitive in all three games but by that third day we were ready for three straight days of bus rides to be over.”

Manning won the game 56-52 and Cooper again led the way with 29 points. EC’s other loss came against Latta on the road when the team committed 30 turnovers. Latta has also beat Mullins in overtime so the Vikings currently enjoy a one game lead (7-0) over EC (6-1) and Mullins (3-2) in the region.

One of the bright spots on the team has been the play of Garris. “Valincia is a hammer in the paint, and she defends well along the baseline, and she has learned how to step-out and shoot a three-point shot which has helped her points production,” said Coach Lowder. “She is killing it on the boards with a 19.4 per game rebounding average. Having her back on the team this season has made a world of difference in our team.”

Cooper enters the Mullins game averaging 23.4 points, 13.7 rebounds, 5.1 steals and five assists per game. In a recent win over Kingstree she scored 38 points and the game was stopped for a moment to present her a game ball for her 2,000th career point reached well before the conclusion of her sophomore year. The all-time career scoring record in South Carolina is held by former York star Ivory Latta who scored 4,319 career points over a six-career career before going on to North Carolina where she became the ACC Player of the Year. Cooper has had five triple-double games so far this season.

Can Cooper, who grew up literally yards away from a full court outdoor facility; playing against mainly older boys from when she was just 8 years old, eventually become the new all-time scoring champion? She has a realistic chance of surpassing Latta before she graduates in two years. It is certainly going to be interesting for her fan base as they cheer her on in a tiny outdated gym where fans must be turned away due to a low seating capacity.

Another key player for EC is 6-2 veteran senior post player Rhamey Floyd who is averaging 11.6 and 12.3 rebounds a game. “Rhamey has worked hard on improving all aspects of her game,” said Coach Lowder. “She gets a lot of offensive rebounds inside and she has quicker feet this season.”

The other starters include senior shooting guard Alicia Wilson and sophomore guard Nakendra McElveen. Rush, with her dead-eye three-point range, will see more playing time down the stretch of the season. Other members of the team include junior guard Savanna Wingard, junior guard Kirby Floyd and junior forward Hannah Hickman.

“We can make a deep run in the playoffs and hopefully get a shot at our second state title in three years if we limit our turnovers, have Valinica and Rhamey own the boards, keep a gifted player like Talaysia healthy, and then learn how to finish games strong as a team,” said Coach Lowder. “We have a lot of basketball left to play and every player needs to understand their role and focus on eliminating mistakes.”

Coach Lowder, in his 4th season at EC. He is assisted by long-time friend Rick Atkinson.


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