Throughout the high school girls basketball season, we’ll recognize the standouts from the previous week’s action with the Lowco Girls Hoops Spotlight presented by 4M Metals.
We select an offensive and defensive player of the week, as well as a Team of the Week, and highlight the biggest game of the upcoming week.
Here’s this week’s installment of the Lowco Girls Hoops Spotlight presented by 4M Metals.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Mike’Ala Washington, BA
It was always a question of when and not if Mike’Ala Washington would break her school’s single-game scoring record. On Friday at home against Colleton Prep, she accomplished the massive feat. The sophomore’s 34 points kicked off a monstrous stretch, as Washington added 19 in the rematch the next day and 22 on Tuesday against John Paul II. The stellar shooter and speedy guard showed her tremendous versatility on the court, driving to the hoop with her arsenal of moves and drilling a potent three-point shot. Her spectacular defensive awareness and quick hands set up her dominant offensive moves, converting turnovers into easy layups. Washington’s chemistry with fellow sophomore Tahleea Heyward is off the charts, and the dynamic duo will be lighting up the BA scoreboard for years to come. It’s rare to find a Lowco point guard with that much speed, explosiveness, defensive prowess, and shooting ability, but Washington brings the complete package every night. With the scoring pace she’s on now, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more records fall before all is said and done.
Honorable Mention: Tahleea Heyward, BA; Lynda Young, HHIHS; Morgan Scott, MRHS; Taylor Michael, JPII; Molly Smith, HHCA
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Layla Warren, BHS
It was a sensational swansong for Layla Warren, who has capped off her tremendous Beaufort hoops career in a big way all season. The senior delivered a remarkable performance in the first round of the Region 7-4A tournament, dropping 28 points while racking up six rebounds and eight steals against Colleton County. The heart and soul of the Eagles’ basketball program, Warren was a lights-out performer in all facets of the game, averaging 19.2 points per game and as many rebounds as steals, picking up 4.6 per contest. Layla feasted on her opponent’s mistakes and used her tremendous athleticism to swipe the ball away and take it to the hole. Throughout her career, she elevated the team around her with strong court vision and leadership. But she also carried her squad to some impressive wins herself. The Layla Warren show gets at least one more viewing — the Eagles earned an at-large playoff berth and will travel to North Myrtle Beach on Saturday. We’re not betting against her.
Honorable Mention: Devon Yarde, HHCA; Kaleigh Washington, BLHS; Madi Washington, BLHS; Macey Dowe, MRHS; Maddie Heathcott, JPII
TEAM OF THE WEEK
Hilton Head Christian Academy (2-0 this week, 20-1 overall)
It’s so difficult to maintain sustained success for years on end, but Kenny Conroy’s Hilton Head Christian Academy girls have done it. The Lady Eagles polished off yet another perfect region campaign Tuesday night in a 50-9 shellacking of island rival Hilton Head Prep. It was a complete team performance on both ends, as dynamic guards Devon Yarde, Molly Smith, and Skylar Smith beautifully moved the ball to find open teammates at the rim and beyond the arc. Molly’s fantastic passing was on display early, delivering the rock to Devon and Skylar who combined for a trio of three-pointers in just the first quarter. Senior star Dior Shelton could not be contained with her elite strength, rebounding, and finishing abilities. But the defense was even more impressive. The Eagles pulled off a flawless second half, holding the Dolphins scoreless for the last two quarters through persistent pressure and intensity. HHCA has shown a wealth of talents all season long, and they put it all together in their final regular season game. Now, they’ll set their sights on a ridiculous SCISA 2A state championship three-peat.
Honorable Mention: May River (3-0), Bluffton (2-0)
GAME OF THE WEEK
May River at Bluffton, 6 p.m. Wednesday (Region 7-4A Championship)
The Bluffton and May River girls have scrapped their way to the region championship game, and the finale should be a dogfight. Both teams locked down an SCHSL postseason berth, but there’s still everything to play for Wednesday. Led by two stingy defenses, the Sharks and Bobcats will meet to decide the queens of Region 7-4A and the all-important number-one playoff seed. The pair of squads come into the title bout after stifling two of the best scorers in the Lowco. Bluffton cruised past Hilton Head while holding the dangerous Lynda Young without a field goal until the fourth quarter, and May River limited senior Beaufort standout Layla Warren, holding the electric star to just 10 in her final game. Points should be at a premium in this intriguing defensive clash. The Sharks will yet again have a lot of work on their hands, being tasked with guarding freshman phenom Tacoya Heyward along with a duo of menacing bigs in Madi and Kaleigh Washington. May River’s Macey Dowe did an impressive job on Layla and will look to keep the lockdown defense going against a point guard who can score at all levels with the speed to burn you to the rim. Bluffton’s interior defenders will be tested in a big way with the tandem of veteran inside presence Jordan Bigham and breakout freshman star Morgan Scott. The battle inside the paint between the Sharks’ strong forwards and the Bobcats’ elite rim protectors could go a long way to deciding the region champion. After graduating their elite backcourt a year ago, May River’s Ari Bevan, McKenna Swinton, and stellar senior Charlotte Van den Heuvel will look to make some big-time impacts against a lethal Bluffton defense that has shut down any region opposition so far. But this Sharks team is far from the one the Bobcats saw back in early January or even three weeks ago. After suffering a crushing 35-14 defeat in the first meeting, MRHS lost only by eight in the rematch and are looking even better coming into the final round. With a locked-in defense, a group of guards on the rise, and the stellar coaching and adjusting by Jermaine Bigham, May River has what it takes to pull off the big-time upset and claim their third straight region crown. It’ll be a tremendous heavyweight fight all the way to the end, and it’s anyone’s for the taking.
(Offensive, Defensive, Team)
Week 1: Mike’Ala Washington, BA; Erin Rivers, WB; HHCA
Week 2: Kynew Barnwell, WB; Jazmin Diaz, WB; Hilton Head Prep
Week 3: Dior Shelton, HHCA; Tacoya Heyward, BLHS; Bluffton
Week 4: Layla Warren, BHS; Tacoya Heyward, BLHS; Whale Branch
Week 5: Dior Shelton, HHCA; Jordan Bigham, MRHS; HHCA
Week 6: Ki’Ayisa Moultrie, BHS; Layla Warren, BHS; HHCA
Week 7: Layla Warren, BHS; Zhani Thompson, WB; Whale Branch
Week 8: Mike’Ala Washington, BA; Layla Warren, BHS; HHCA