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East Clarendon High School
Turbeville

 East Clarendon Girls Basketball Finishes 22-5 While EC Boy’s Finish With 18-6 Record

By Billy G. Baker

Publisher

TurbevilleMike Lowder has just concluded his fourth season as the head girls basketball coach at East Clarendon and over this span his Lady Wolverines have 77 wins, two region titles, and one Class A state title when they claimed a 20- point win over Timmonsville in the finals at the USC Colonial Center in 2017.

This season East Clarendon finished 22-5 for the season and 13-1 in region play. They were ranked among the top four teams in AA for most of the season. The boys team head coached by Seneca Barron also entered the playoffs as a two seed and they finished with a 18-6 record.

“Of course we cherish the state title we won three years ago but right up there is the fact that moving up to AA two years ago we are 25-1 in the region over the past two years against some top flight teams like Latta, Mullins, and Carvers Bay,” said Coach Lowder. “We are very proud of what we were able to accomplish in region play the past two years. That speaks volumes about the dedication and hard work of our players.”

Next year East Clarendon has bene realigned back to Class A and the Lady Wolverines will be competing in the same region with Scotts Branch, Carvers Bay and C.E Murray. “Right now, if I were doing region predictions for our region next year, I would have Carvers Bay picked to win the region. We only beat them by two points at their place and carvers bay has pretty much their whole team back. Scott’s Branch will be another big rival right here in Clarendon County.

“We are looking forward to getting back in Class A, but we will face very good competition at this level also,” said Coach Lowder. “As a matter of fact, I watched the Military Magnet girls play very well against High Point Academy in the Class A finals the other day and they have everyone back from that team as well.”

East Clarendon and AA Lower state finalist Latta each finished 13-1 in region play during the 1019-20 season, but the Vikings won the tiebreaker. As a two seed East Clarendon defeated Barnwell 56-36 in the first round of the AA playoffs on February 18 at home. Then in the second round the Lady Wolverines lost 63-45 on the road against a very athletic North Charleston team, seeded one and the Lady Cougars went on to win the state title over Christ Church.

“We picked the wrong time to an off night but give credit to North Charleston and their great defense that forced us into a lot of turnovers,” said Coach Lowder. “They out-played us and deserved to win. I went to the state AA finals and I told Coach (Haley) Reed she had the most athletic team we had played all year and they could compete with Christ Church and you what they did beating them for the state title.”

The big question after the season was a rumor that sophomore all-state point guard prospect Talaysia Cooper might be leaving East Clarendon for a bigger school but Cooper tells the HSSR that is not true and Coach Lowder dispelled the rumors as well. “What is happening is that Talaysia has been recruited to play on “Team Curry” out of Charlotte N.C. and she will be spending some time away from the community this summer,” said Coach Lowder. “The coaches affiliated with Team Curry have spent several months trying to get her on their team and this is one of the top AAU girl’s teams in the nation and we are happy for her I promise you. They will be player all over the nation this summer including Los Angeles. This experience is going to be great for Talaysia and great for our program. She is only going to get better playing against flight competition and she is already a super player in her own right.”

Cooper averaged 23.5 points, 15.5 rebounds, 5.5 steals, and 6.1 assists a game this season. USC head coach Dawn Staley has now visited EC three times to watch Cooper play in person and the talented point guard has at least 15 major college offers to date including South Carolina, Clemson and North Carolina among them.

The Wolverines will certainly miss the play of two seniors moving on after the season. Forward Valinica Garris, who missed her junior season with a torn ACL, came back for her senior season and had a team leading 500 rebounds averaging 18.1 recoveries a game. “She had 301 rebounds as a sophomore, but I can tell you in my 20-plus years coaching girls’ basketball I have never coached a better rebounder I can tell you that,” said Coach Lowder. “Garris brought a lot of confidence to the team. She was also an excellent on ball defender.” Garris also averaged 12.6 points a game.

The Wolverines will also miss the inside play of 6-1 senior Rhamey Floyd, a three-year starter who averaged 10.5 points and 11.8 rebounds a game. “Rhamey came through for us in several big games this season and she played her best over the first half of the season,” said Coach Lowder. “She had 17 at home the first time we played Mullins at home. When we ran a 2-3 zone defense and put Garris and Cooper on the block with Rhamey in the middle we shut down teams like Mullins. That type zone defense shut a lot of teams down that we played.”

The third senior captain moving on is small forward Alicia Wilson who has been a three-year contributor on the team also.

Joining Cooper as returning starters are rising sophomore shooting guard Amyia Rush who will be asked to handle the ball more next season along with 5-8 rising freshman guard Hayden White who moved from the jayvee after her season was over. Sophomore point guard Nakendra McElveen will be back next year and she is a solid point guard.

Some other players returning will be rising senior guard Savanna Wingard, rising senior small forward Kirbi Floyd, and rising senior guard Hannah Hickman.

Speaking of rumors rising sophomore Liberty Whack, who made the HSSR all-rookie team as an 8th grader, has been away from basketball the past two seasons but word is she plans on rejoining the team next season. “We hope she does come back out because she has a knack for being able to score any time she is around the basket,” said Coach Lowder. “We’ve asked her the past two seasons to come back out. She could help the team a lot next season if she decides to play.”

East Clarendon Boys Team Makes Playoffs As Two Seed

In the regular season finale at Johnsonville the region title was on the line and tensions were running high with so much at stake.

East Clarendon had defeated Johnsonville 65-56 on January 10 at home and both teams were meeting with one region loss at Johnsonville to conclude the season with the winner clinching the region. Late in the second period a technical foul was called on the EC bench. Early in the third quarter EC head coach Seneca Barron rose from his seat to call a full time out. One official felt like Coach Barron used bad language while calling time out and he gave the coach a second technical which meant the coach was tossed out of the gym. Coach Barron insisted he didn’t used profanity but nonetheless he had to leave the game, pay a personal fine of $500 and he missed the following two games by rule.

In the first round of the playoffs EC defeated Mullins 60-58 but Woodland came to EC as a three seed and pulled off a 20 point upset win 56-34 to end the Wolverines season on February, 19. Coach Barron has had no comment to the HSSR about the incident and he remains the coach for next season.

The team finished a very respectable 18-6 and 12-2 in the region.

Eight of the 15 members on the team are seniors so this was a season of great potential for the Wolverines. They were led in scoring by senior guard Tyjhai Cavin at 12 points and 6.7 rebounds a game. Junior forward Keyon Wilson is a key returning player for next year and he is averaged 10.5 points and 5.7 points a game. Senior point guard Jalen Bryant averaged seven points a game. Senior 6-4 forward Marquis Pearson will be missed as well, and he averaged 8.8 points and 9.6 rebounds a game.

 

 

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