East Clarendon wins 1A lower state championship
by Tommy Wampler | March 3, 2018 9:10 am
Last Updated: March 2, 2018 at 1:12 pm
East Clarendon and Scott’s Branch High Schools are both located in Clarendon County. Neither of these two varsity girls basketball teams could have known they would face each other in an inter-county battle, where the winner would advance to play in the state championship. On Friday, Feb. 16 that day came. Both schools took the drive up from Clarendon County to the Florence Civic Center to battle for the Lower State title.
Both teams practiced and prepared all year for the opportunity to compete for the South Carolina High School League 1A State Championship. Scott’s Branch began the game with a few quick baskets to go up 5-4, but that was the only time the Eagles had the lead. At the end of the first quarter, EC led 14-9 and was just warming up. Scott’s Branch’s Cambria Parker dropped a 3 pointer to cut the lead to 6 but East Clarendon went in at the half up by a score of 29-23.
The East Clarendon Wolverines made it to the Lower State championship last year only to lose by 2. For the first time since 1971 when they lost the LS Title Game, the Wolverines have the chance to take home a state title. This time the Wolverines were focused and determined to not let that happen.
At the start of the second half, Scott’s Branch changed up their defense but the Wolverines made adjustments. East Clarendon Head Coach Mike Lowder said, “Our team plays at one speed. We are a team of runs and fast breaks. That’s what our season has consisted of and we have been successful.” The Lady Wolverines were on a mission and run is what they did. They broke down the Eagle defense with fast breaks and second chance shots off rebounds. Each time Scott’s Branch would score East Clarendon would get the ball in quickly and drive into the paint.
As the second half began, the East Clarendon ladies strung together a quick 10 points and never looked back. “The girls were focused. They were on a mission in the second half,” said Lowder, “I’ve seen these girls come up and develop and get better, working harder and harder.”
Caitlin Timmons bounced a 3 pointer around the rim before it dropped in right as the third quarter buzzer sounded, widening the gap to 14. As the teams came out for the final quarter, the Wolverines led 48-34.
The fourth quarter was dominated by EC. The Wolverines never let up. Their defense forced bad passes and missed shots. It was a physical match that left Scott’s Branch with no answers. With 57 seconds left, EC took control of the ball and earned the victory over the Eagles 60-47.
Talaysia Cooper, an eighth grader at East Clarendon, led the Wolverines with 23 points and 8 rebounds. She also topped the 1,000 point career mark with her performance. “When she is in the game, the girls look up to her and everyone feels more comfortable,” said Lowder. With 4 more years to play, Cooper will help make East Clarendon a force on the court.
Gracen Watts added 10 points and 5 rebounds. Caitlin Timmons added 6 points with 8 rebounds and Ramey Floyd was a wall in the paint scoring 14 points and 9 rebounds.
Mary Wimberley led Scott’s Branch in scoring with 16 points. Jazlyn Bowman was the Eagles long range threat. She ended the night with three 3 pointers and a total of 10 points. Chaniya Monroe added 9 points.
Scott’s Branch finished the season at 12-6. It will be their turn next year to avenge their Lower State Championship loss.
The win sends the Lady Wolverines to the SCHSL State Championship game where they will face Timmonsville High School, the reigning 1A state champions. Coach Lowder said, “We played them twice last year. They are well coached. William McCall, Timmonsville Varsity Girls Basketball Coach, is a legend and he will have them ready but our girls are ready too. They are focused, dedicated and determined to bring East Clarendon its first state championship title.” Game time is 10:30 a.m. March 3 in Columbia at the Colonial Life Arena.