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 coming into focus in South Carolina when Hilton Head Christian Academy and Beaufort Academy claimed SCISA state titles in Sumter.
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 girls basketball players in Beaufort and Jasper counties last season, and they make up the 2019-20 All-Lowco Girls Basketball Team presented by H2 Basketball.
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 | Sr.
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.
ALL-LOWCO FIRST TEAM
|G/F||Tatyana Aiken, BLHS | Sr.|
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
|G||Emma Peluso, MRHS | Sr.|
All-State in three sports, Georgia Southern track and cross country signee was the glue for Lower State runner-up Sharks
|G/F||Dior Shelton, HHCA | Jr.|
Perhaps the Lowco’s most-improved player, Shelton carried the load for state champ Eagles with 15.2 points and four boards per game
|F||Zhani Thompson, WB | Jr.|
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
|G||Layla Warren, BHS | Jr.|
Lethal outside shooter did it all for the Eagles with 16.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 4.1 steals per contest
ALL-LOWCO SECOND TEAM
|G||Kynew Barnwell, WB | Soph.|
Speedy guard did damage at both ends, averaging 14.8 points, 2.7 assists, and 2.4 steals
|F/C||Jasmine Campbell, HHCA | Sr.|
Averaged a double-double (13 points, 10.8 boards) to lock down the paint for state champion Eagles
|G||Tacoya Heyward, BLHS | 8th|
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
|F||Amelia Huebel, BA | Sr.|
Heart and soul of SCISA 1A champion Eagles averaged 13.2 points, 11.2 boards and hit 1,000 career points and rebounds
|G/F||Mike’Ala Washington, BA| Fr.|
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
|Jordan Bigham, MRHS||Samari Mitchell, BLHS|
|Ella Clark, HHP||Abby Peduzzi, HHCA|
|Kierstin Clark, HHP||Alexis Polite, RHHS|
|Jazmin Diaz, WB||Abby Quinty, JPII|
|Gracyn Drury, MRHS||Miley Ray, HHIHS|
|Janiya Ferebee, HHIHS||Starr Reed, BCHS|
|Jasmine Hamilton, JPII||Sequoia Smalls, BHS|
|Tahleea Heyward, BA||Chynna Sneed, MRHS|
|Emily Ann Hiers, BA||Daisy Taylor, THA|
|Brielle McCarthy, HHCA|
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