By Wes Kerr
Four Lowco hoops standouts earned statewide recognition for their outstanding seasons Wednesday, landing spots on the coveted South Carolina Basketball Coaches Association All-State teams.
Beaufort High’s James Dennison was the lone boys player selected, while Bluffton’s Tacoya Heyward, Battery Creek’s Kiara Wilson, and Whale Branch’s Kynew Barnwell were named to the girls teams.
The leader of Beaufort High’s terrific forward trio, Dennison delivered a monster senior campaign to give his Eagles the Region 7-4A crown. A dominant rebounder and an efficient scorer, Dennison averaged 19.4 points a game while reeling in 13.3 boards per contest. He was good for a double-double almost every night and worked hard defensively with over two steals and a block per game. Alongside his teammates Zyrin Odom and Michael Dennison, James was a staple of the Eagles’ loaded frontcourt that stifled its Lowco competition in 2022.
She’s just a sophomore, but Heyward has already ascended to the ranks of one of the state’s premier point guards. It was another brilliant year for Tacoya, who led the Bobcats to an incredible second consecutive unbeaten Region 7-4A run. Her speed and athleticism are unmatched at the high school level, and she can score at all levels while playing a ferocious brand of defense. She did it all for the Bobcats in her sophomore season, scoring 13.7 points per game alongside 8.6 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 6.1 steals. It’s the second straight year she’s earned All-State recognition, and Heyward will be committed to improving her game even further for a Bobcat side that should be a state title contender next year.
Wilson put together a sensational season for Battery Creek, showcasing her elite ball-handling and shooting abilities combined with an exceptional defensive effort. The junior guard stuffed the stat sheet every night on the court including a memorable triple-double on January 25 against Academic Magnet with 19 points, 10 rebounds, and 12 steals. Lonnie Kluttz could count on Wilson to give her Dolphins a lift throughout Region 8-3A play, and her relentless effort in grabbing boards, deflecting passes, and scoring in transition helped lead her team back to the postseason. She’ll be one to watch heading into her senior year as Battery Creek looks to build on a breakout 2022 campaign.
Barnwell’s final chapter as a Whale Branch Warrior may have been her best yet in a remarkable run to the elite eight in class 1A. The electric senior went on a tear in the postseason, willing the Warriors to a pair of playoff wins with back-to-back 30-point games before raising the curtain with a 28-point effort against Military Magnet. Barnwell’s superior outside shooting and quickness to the rim were uncontainable, averaging 18.7 points while racking up 3.2 assists and 3.5 steals per contest. An All-State honoree for the second consecutive year, Barnwell’s scoring and leadership on the court will be sorely missed for Latoya Mack and the Warriors next season.