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East Clarendon High School
Turbeville

East Clarendon Girls 7-0 In Region As They Prepare For Showdown At Mullins January 19th

By Billy G. Baker

Publisher

Turbeville—It was just a few seasons ago that the East Clarendon girls’ basketball team would routinely lose basketball games by 30 and forty points and even play to running clock a lot, so when the Lady Wolverines won the Class A girls’ basketball championship last year it was so uplifting to their players, coaches, and fans and the championship brought unity and joy to the community also.

Then came realignment that moved East Clarendon up to AA and many fans including head coach Mike Lowder wondered just what the move up might mean for the program. “I barely had a handle on knowing about the teams in Class A and I certainly came into this season not knowing a thing about AA I can assure you,” said Coach Lowder. “We are one of the smallest AA schools around so to have gone through our region 7-0 thus far, and we have played every team but Mullins, is amazing to me I can tell you that. We are excited to be 11-2 and 7-0 in the region at this point of the season.”

The 2018-19 season got off to a shaky start with two early season losses to Clarendon County rival and AAA state ranked Manning. Since those two early losses the East Clarendon Lady Wolverines have reeled off 9 straight wins and earned the HSSR number five ranking in AA going into a key region showdown game with Mullins on the road on January 25th. Mullins played for the AA state title a year ago losing to Keenan in the finals.

East Clarendon is led by Talaysia Cooper a six-foot freshman national recruit already offered by USC, Clemson and North Carolina. She’s a six-foot point guard who can play every position on the floor. She earned Class A Player of the Year honors as an 8th grader when she maintained double-double figures in just about every game she played. She has been a starter and dominant player ever since becoming a starter in the 7th grade.

Coach Lowder says he just can’t give over how well his team has made the adjustment to AA. “The thing I am most proud of us is the fact that we moved up to AA, from Class A, and we are a small AA school and to be undefeated at 7-0 in our new region right now against bigger schools is just wonderful,” he said. “What our girls have accomplished is just amazing, it truly is.

“We have played everyone once in our region except Mullins and we go up there this Friday night (January 18th) and our told our team that it will be the first time a team has played us 94 feet around the court for the whole game,” said Coach Lowder who owns a 430-183 career record including four state titles. “Mullins comes back to our place on February 6th, so these two games should decide our region champion.”

When power forward Valencia Garris tore her ACL at an EC practice in late November the Lady Wolverines lost a talented player who had worked hard to improve her perimeter shot. She was also a solid defender and well respected by her teammates.

“We know what Talaysia can do but losing Garris put a lot of pressure on our two 6-1 inside players Rhamey Floyd and Brittni Anderson to score off passes to the inside from Cooper,” said Coach Lowder. “One of our two losses against Manning came when our Big’s were a combined three of 29 shots from the paint and you can’t win doing that,” he said. “Rhamey has been light outs and very improved on offense over the past year. Brittni is not having a good year on offense but she is averaging 13 rebounds a game. The play of Floyd and Anderson has been the key to our success along with the talents of Talaysia and her talents speak for themselves.”

Cooper is averaging 22 points and 9 rebounds a game. In a recent 54-29 win at Andrews Cooper had 33 points followed up with Floyd’s 14 points and the team shot 49 per cent from the field. In this game Anderson hauled down 11 rebounds also. On the season Floyd is averaging 12 points and 13 rebounds a game so the outside play of Cooper and the inside scoring of Floyd have been key to the team’s success with Garris out due to an injury.

Junior Alicia Wilson has taken the place of Garris and the small forward is long and moves well and has been a defensive stopper. Nakendra McElveen is a freshman who moved straight to the varsity from middle school and she plays on a wing and takes a lot of pressure off Cooper when teams try to double team her.

Kirby Floyd is first off, the bench and shoots the ball well. Another player contributing off the bench is sophomore guard Savannah Wingard. Some other players contributing include senior guard Destiny Dyer, junior forward Emilee Johnson and junior guard Keonna Williams.

“Our improved post play from the start of the season has been huge for us,” said Coach Lowder. “If we were not getting 20 points out of our post players every game we would not be 11-2 right now. Rhamey Floyd has a double-double most every game and Brittni has been great getting 12 or so rebounds a game.”

Coach Lowder said his goals and expectations are still a work in progress. “Being 7-0 in the region and beating Andrews twice is quite an accomplishment already,” said Coach Lowder. “Most teams we have played this year can’t compete against our size. We have three players six foot or taller on the court pretty much all the time.

“The test for us is how well we handle the pressure we will see from Mullins,” said Coach Lowder. “If I have a frustration it is how some officials allow opponents to hold Talaysia, pull on her jersey to slow her down, and get away with fouling her a lot. This is something I am having to learn to deal with I tell you.”

While the move up to AA will present new challenges the Lady Wolverines have handled the move up fine so far. With a team like Mullins next up, and on the road, things are about to get interesting indeed.

EC Boys 5-2 In Region Play

Seneca Barron’s boys team defeated Andrews 44-40 on January 15th to improve their record to 5-2 in the region and 7-6 over-all.

Against Andrew junior guard Tyjhai Calvin led the way with 13 points and he is averaging 12.1 points and 7.2 rebounds on the year.

Other scoring leaders for the Wolverines include sophomore forward Keyon Wilson averaging 6.3 points and 8.4 rebounds a game along with junior point guard Jalen Bryant at 9.7 points and 3.7 rebounds a game. Th next top scorer is 6-4 junior forward Marquis Pearson who is averaging 6.3 points and 6.5 rebounds a game.

 

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