Warriors headline All-Lowco Basketball Teams

in Sports by

By Justin Jarrett

LowcoSports.com

The high school basketball season feels like it happened in a different world given all that has happened to turn the sports world upside-down since then. The coronavirus was just starting to become a concern in the Palmetto State when the Whale Branch boys were among the last team’s standing who closed out the season in Columbia.

The pandemic deprived us of putting on the inaugural Lowco Basketball Showcase, but it can’t stop us from shining the spotlight on many of the players who were going to be featured. The LowcoSports editorial staff crunched the numbers and consulted with area coaches to compile a list of the top 30 high school boys and girls basketball players in Beaufort and Jasper counties last season, and they make up the 2019-20 All-Lowco Basketball Teams presented by H2 Basketball.

BOYS COACH OF THE YEAR

Jim Raymond, WB

Just two years ago, Whale Branch boys basketball was down. Way down. The Warriors won just seven games in 2017-18, and with five seniors graduating, it seemed like it might get worse before it got better. In a small school like Whale Branch, losing can kill a program. Kids don’t like to lose, and if a handful of contributors decide it’s not worth it anymore, the team is toast. Jim Raymond never let his players lose hope. The Warriors doubled their win total the next season, as a talented junior class emerged to propel Whale Branch to the second round of the playoffs. Raymond rallied the Warriors again this season, and they matched his sideline intensity and lived up to the school’s nickname. Only two of their seven defeats came by double digits, and the defensive lapses that sometimes plagued them early in the season were a distant memory by the time they rattled off eight straight victories to punch their ticket to Columbia for the Class 2A state championship game.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Nick Pringle, WB

This pick will come as no surprise to anyone who paid attention to high school hoops in the Lowco this season. The entire state was abuzz about Pringle after he sprouted to 6-8 seemingly overnight and dominated the AAU circuit with Team TMP last summer, and his commitment and eventual signing with Wofford put the spotlight on the Seabrook star going into his senior year. Pringle lived up to the hype, throwing down highlight-reel dunks all season long and fighting through regular double-teams to rack up 15.1 points and 11.4 rebounds per game. He developed into an outstanding post defender, as well, leading the Lowco with 1.4 blocks per contest. Along with the rest of a tightly-bonded senior class, Pringle led Whale Branch to the Class 2A state championship game before the Warriors fell to Gray Collegiate.

FIRST TEAM ALL-LOWCO

Tyrone Calloway, HHP | Sr., G

Catawba signee led the Lowco with 22.8 ppg and twice scored 38

Harry Cash, MRHS | Sr., F

Preseason all-state pick put up 15.9 points and 7.4 boards to carry young Sharks

Shawn Chisolm, WB | Sr., F

Undersized big averaged 15.7 points and seven rebounds and made opponents pay for focusing on Pringle

Dawson Coleman, BA | Sr., G/F

Led team in points (13.8), rebounds (7.8), assists (2.3), steals (1.9), and blocks (1.3)

Mauriq Singleton, RHHS | Sr., G/F

All-State wing led Jags in scoring (11.8) and added 4.6 boards

SECOND TEAM ALL-LOWCO

Oliver Holmes, BHS | Jr., G

Eagles’ No. 2 scorer (11.9) also dished out team-high 2.9 assists

Brandon Howard, RHHS | Soph., G

The engine that drove the Jags averaged 10.5 points with Lowco-best 4.7 assists

Lee Kirkland, BLHS | Sr., F

Hulking presence in the paint averaged a double-double (11.2 ppg, 12.3 rpg)

Tyler Rice, BLHS | Sr., G/F

Rangy wing can score from anywhere (12.6 ppg) and crash the boards (6.4 rpg)

Sam Summa, HHIHS | Jr., F

Emerged as one of area’s best bigs, averaging a double-double (11.8 ppg, 10 rpg)

HONORABLE MENTION

Reco Anderson, JPII

Rashard Baker, RHHS

Zack Black, THA

Jace Blackshear, HHCA

Gavin Blocker, MRHS

Shaleaf Cherry, RHHS

Eric Eastham, BLHS

Elijah Fess, BA

Luke Foley, HHP

Floyd Hargrove, HHCA

Mark Knight, JPII

Stone McDonald, HHP

Gaston Moore, HHIHS

Zyrin Odom, BHS

Jamaad Rivers, BHS

Dean Seelbach, HHIHS

Josh Smith, BP

Amoni Waring, BCHS

Shemar Williams, WB

GIRLS COACH OF THE YEAR

LaToya Mack, WB

Make no mistake, the Coach of the Year award is handed out for what happened on the court this season, but LaToya Mack has been laying the foundation for this honor for several years. Mack rose up through the coaching ranks at Whale Branch along with the stars who helped the Warriors break out this season and come within an eyelash of playing in the Class 2A Lower State title game. Mack developed the program’s young talent as an assistant before taking over the reins last season and leading Whale Branch to a seven-win campaign just a year after the Warriors won only one game. Her second year at the helm saw an even more dramatic improvement, as the Warriors finished 20-8 — matching the program record for wins — and saw their dream season end with a 48-47 loss to third-ranked Latta on a late bucket.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Tkai DeVore, JPII

What is left to be said about Tkai DeVore? She has been the SCISA Region 4-2A Player of the Year three straight years — in a league that included state powerhouse Hilton Head Christian Academy and fellow 2020 SCISA state champ Beaufort Academy. DeVore led the Lowco in scoring (19.5 points per game) and rebounds (13.2), ranked second in the area in assists (4.1) and steals (4.4), and threw in 1.7 blocks per contest for good measure. The dynamic, versatile superstar scored in double figures in 24 of her 26 games, topping 20 points on 11 occasions and putting up 32 or more three times, including a monster 38 points (and 21 rebounds) in a loss to Beaufort Academy. She recorded an incredible 21 double-doubles, including a triple-double against rival Thomas Heyward. And for her final act of leadership, DeVore is skipping the chance to play college ball to enlist in the U.S. Army.

FIRST TEAM ALL-LOWCO

Tatyana Aiken, BLHS | Sr., G/F

One of the area’s most versatile players stuffed the stat sheet with 14.5 points, 8.1 boards, 3.4 assists, 5.8 steals, and 2.5 blocks per game

Emma Peluso, MRHS | Sr., G

All-State in three sports, Georgia Southern track and cross country signee was the glue for Lower State runner-up Sharks

Dior Shelton, HHCA | Jr., G/F

Perhaps the Lowco’s most-improved player, Shelton carried the load for state champ Eagles with 15.2 points and four boards per game

Zhani Thompson, WB | Jr., F

Warriors’ dominant post presence returned from a year away from the court to average 11.8 points and 11.9 boards and make All-State

Layla Warren, BHS | Jr., G

Lethal outside shooter did it all for the Eagles with 16.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 4.1 steals per contest

SECOND TEAM ALL-LOWCO

Kynew Barnwell, WB | Soph., G

Speedy guard did damage at both ends, averaging 14.8 points, 2.7 assists, and 2.4 steals

Jasmine Campbell, HHCA | Sr., F/C

Averaged a double-double (13 points, 10.8 boards) to lock down the paint for state champion Eagles

Tacoya Heyward, BLHS | 8th, G

Put together one of the most impressive stat lines in the area (14.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 3.9 steals) and not even in HS yet

Amelia Huebel, BA | Sr., F

Heart and soul of SCISA 1A champion Eagles averaged 13.2 points, 11.2 boards and hit 1,000 career points and rebounds

Mike’Ala Washington, BA| Fr., G/F

Grew into one of the area’s most dominant players down the stretch, finishing with 16.3 points, 4.8 boards, 2.8 assists, and 4.2 steals

HONORABLE MENTION

Jordan Bigham, MRHS

Ella Clark, HHP

Kierstin Clark, HHP

Jazmin Diaz, WB

Gracyn Drury, MRHS

Janiya Ferebee, HHIHS

Jasmine Hamilton, JPII

Tahleea Heyward, BA

Emily Ann Hiers, BA

Brielle McCarthy, HHCA

Samari Mitchell, BLHS

Abby Peduzzi, HHCA

Alexis Polite, RHHS

Abby Quinty, JPII

Miley Ray, HHIHS

Starr Reed, BCHS

Sequoia Smalls, BHS

Chynna Sneed, MRHS

Daisy Taylor, THA