It was standing room only in the ECHS gymnasium to watch Talaysia Cooper begin her sophomore campaign against Lake City on Wednesday night.
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TURBEVILLE -- It was standing room only in the ECHS gymnasium to watch Talaysia Cooper begin her sophomore campaign against Lake City on Wednesday night.
As expected, Cooper didn’t disappoint.
The Lady Wolverines defeated Lake City 59-21 behind Cooper’s 37 points, 13 rebounds, and 12 steals. The SCBCA Preseason Elite selection dominated from the opening tip, scoring East Clarendon’s first basket off the tip-off, until she was taken out of the game midway through the fourth quarter.
Cooper scored 15 points in the first quarter; Lake City scored three.
In fact, the Lady Panthers actually held a slim, 3-2 lead early in the first quarter after a Jada Dickinson three-point basket, but East Clarendon scored the next 22 points.
Amya Rush hit a long two-pointer as time expired to give the Lady Wolverines a 19-3 lead after the first quarter, and Cooper scored on a layup as time expired in the second quarter to push the lead to 34-11.
“I thought our effort was there, especially in the first quarter,” said East Clarendon head coach Mike Lowder. “We came out and pressed which we normally don’t do. We got a little tired; we’re a little winded right now, but I was pleased with our effort tonight.”
As dominant as Cooper was, it was East Clarendon’s post play that really made the difference. Senior forward Valencia Garris returned after missing last year with an injury, scoring six points, while grabbing 15 rebounds, three steals, three assists, and two blocks. Senior center Rhamey Floyd added four points, 12 rebounds and four blocks. Both players altered shots all night, towering over a Lake City team that lacked the size needed to compete with the Lady Wolverines.
“Rhamey did a great job on the boards,” said Lowder. “It’’s good to get Valencia Garris back. We didn’t have her last year, so it’s really good to have both of those two bigs in there getting rebounds.”
East Clarendon held a big lead throughout, allowing Lowder to go to his bench early and often to spell Cooper and get experience for players that may need to be prepared for a long run in the playoffs.
“Any time you can get quality minutes out of your bench it’s going to payoff down the stretch,” said Lowder. “I thought they did a great job tonight.”
In the end, the game was all about Cooper though. While her offensive abilities were undeniable, it was the constant defensive pressure resulting in tipped passes and general chaos for Lake City that derailed the Lady Panthers throughout.
“Talaysia is that constant that we have, and the girls are so confident when she’s on the floor,” said Lowder. “Overall, she led the team like she’s been doing the last two years.”
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