Five LowCo hoops standouts received statewide honors for their stellar seasons Tuesday with spots on the South Carolina Basketball Coaches Association All-State Teams.
Hilton Head’s Will McCracken and Battery Creek’s David Smith earned a place on the boys teams, while Beaufort High senior Layla Warren, Bluffton freshman Tacoya Heyward, and Whale Branch junior Kynew Barnwell represented the area girls contingent.
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A transfer from Archbishop Moeller in Cincinnati, McCracken busted onto the Lowco scene this season and took his Hilton Head Island High squad to unseen heights, leading the Seahawks to an unbeaten Region 7-4A regular season and tournament championship for the first time since 2005. The senior superstar and UNCW hoops commit averaged over 20 points a game with his remarkable scoring touch from all areas of the court, including a school-record 43 point-game in a win over Lucy Beckham. McCracken has been an irreplaceable weapon on offense and a menace on defense, blocking shots along with exhibiting his phenomenal leadership and dedication every night on the court.
Senior guard David Smith delivered all season for Battery Creek, averaging a team-high 12.3 points per game after transferring from Beaufort High. The Dolphin standout displayed his terrific playmaking on both ends of the court, leading his squad to an 8-3 record. Smith excelled in racking up steals and fueling his team’s offense, picking up 2.6 thefts per contest.
Warren completed a tremendous Beaufort High career, showcasing her offensive explosiveness and defensive intensity every night en route to an average of 19.2 points and 4.3 steals per game during her senior season. A gifted scorer from all levels with a high motor and strong defense, Warren carried her squad to an at-large berth in the 4A state playoffs, scoring a monster 28 points in a region tournament contest with Colleton County before bowing out with an outstanding 20-point game against a tough North Myrtle Beach squad.
She may only be a freshman, but Heyward has already torn it up at the varsity level for the Bobcats. After a brilliant introduction as an eighth-grader last year, Heyward followed it up with a dynamite freshman season, leading her squad with 12.4 points per contest. Her drive to the rim was nearly unstoppable, and her ferocious defensive effort was even more impressive, racking up a flurry of steals against quality opponents and averaging nearly five a game. Even as a freshman, Heyward’s leadership has bred success all across the roster, achieving an amazing undefeated run to take both the Region 7-4A regular season and tournament title. She finished off a phenomenal season with back-to-back 16-point performances against May River and Myrtle Beach to bring her team to the cusp of the 4A elite eight.
Barnwell displayed her electric athleticism and incredible outside shot all season long for the Whale Branch Warriors, leading her squad to a perfect Region 7-1A campaign. Barnwell scored a whopping 21.8 per game and displayed her strong court vision and defensive intensity every night. Her shooting stroke was rarely matched, and she racked up points in a hurry against the toughest area competition, averaging more than two 3-pointers per game. The junior delivered in a monster way in several big games, scoring an incredible 29 against Baptist Hill along with a 35-point outburst over top 1A foe Estill. After another tough ending in the postseason, she’ll be fueled even more when it’s time for her senior year.
It’s the second consecutive year The Lowco has had five representatives on the SCBCA All-State Teams. Tatyana Aiken (Bluffton), Emma Peluso (May River), and Zhani Thompson (Whale Branch) made the girls team last year along with Whale Branch’s Nick Pringle and Ridgeland-Hardeeville’s Mauriq Singleton on the boys side.
By Wes Kerr