COLUMBIA - When Mike Lowder finally got a chance to talk to his East Clarendon High School varsity girls basketball team in the hallway to the locker room underneath Colonial Life Arena, he shouted, "Mission accomplished."
The Lady Wolverines had …
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The Lady Wolverines had just won the 1A state title - and in very convincing fashion over Timmonsville. EC led 23-1 after one quarter and were never really challenged as it rolled to a 55-31 victory on Saturday.
It is the Turbeville school's first state title in girls basketball.
"We really couldn't have asked for any better of a start," said Lowder, whose team finished with a 19-5 record. "We worked hard in practice this week and the girls went out and executed the game plan."
Perhaps a little better than even any of them anticipated. The Lady Wolverines missed their first shot of the game; they missed one the rest of the first quarter, going 9-for-11 in the opening eight minutes.
"We were very confident coming into the game," said senior Gracen Watts, who scored the game's first five points as EC scored the first 21 of the game. "To open the game the way we did, that made it much easier on us."
After Watts' fast start, eighth-grade sensation Tylasia Cooper began to assert herself. The 5-foot-11-inch Cooper scored 12 points in the opening quarter, getting out in transition and converting a pair of 3-point plays.
"It was good to start the game like that," said Cooper, who finished with 18 points and now has 1,024 in her 2-year career. "We came out and played great."
The Lady Wolverines, who overcame a 2-9 start to play in the final game of the season, never got into any kind of offensive rhythm.
"They couldn't have played a much better first quarter," said THS head coach Perry Stokes, whose team finished with a 15-11 record. "They came out hitting their shots. I know they didn't miss many in the first quarter."
East Clarendon also did a good job defending against Timmonsville's main offensive weapon, Makyla Commander. Commander, who came into the contest averaging over 19 points a game, managed to connect on just 3 of 20 field goal attempts and finished with eight points. She was 0-for-7 from 3-point range.
"We felt good about our game plan with her," Lowder said. "I felt like we did a good job of defending her. She's a good player; she can shoot the 3, take it on the baseline or go down the lane. We made it very difficult for her."
The Lady Wolverines finished with 12 steals and six blocked shots. Britni Anderson, a 6-0 junior, made her presence known on the inside in the early going with three of the blocks.
Timmonsville was never able to make any real push after the devastating first quarter. EC led 33-11 at halftime and 47-19 after the Lady Whirlwinds scored seven points within the first two minutes of the second half.
East Clarendon led by as many as 34 in the fourth quarter before THS scored some late points to get over the 30-point mark.
While the Lady Wolverines pressed the issue on offense when the opportunity arose, they didn't go full throttle like they have most of the season.
"Coach told us to be smart out there," said senior Caitlin Timmons. "Be smart with our passes, don't force the issue, take good shots."
EC was 14-for-22 from the floor in the first half, good for 63.6 percent. They finished 21-for-41.
Cooper finished with aforementioned 18 points, going 8-for-11 from the floor. She had five rebounds, four steals, three assists and two blocks.
Watts had 13 points and Timmons finished with 10 points, five assists and two steals. Valincia Garris had eight points, 10 rebounds, two steals and two assists and Rhamey Floyd had three steals.
Commander and Alaina Thomas each had eight points to lead Timmonsville, which connected on just 10 of 49 shots from the floor.
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