Stratford girls aim for consistency in region

Kaleyia Brown

Stratford’s Kaleyia Brown (2) drives to the basket in the fourth quarter. Brown had a game-high 22 points to power the Lady Knights past Hanahan.

Stratford High School’s girls basketball team moves into region play needing more consistency on game nights.

“We tend to drop or play up depending on who we are playing,” Stratford coach Kelly McNeil said after a 42-36 win at Hanahan High School on Jan. 7. “We did that tonight. We came out flat. We were 12 of 30-something from the free-throw line and missed 24 wide-open layups.”

Still, McNeil’s team managed to win thanks to a 17-4 run in the second half after falling behind 32-25.

“I called a timeout and said all right enough is enough,” McNeil said. “They saw time was running out and they knew they needed to dig in. As ugly as it was they were able to pull it out.”

The Lady Knights (4-8) have been without the services of point guard Yasmine Cook, who has been out for three weeks. McNeil didn’t know when Cook would be back.

Stratford’s 1-2 punch in scoring has taken a hit without Cook and guard Kaleyia Brown has moved over from the shooting guard spot to run the point. Against Hanahan, Brown poured in a game-high 22 points and made eight steals.

“She’s had to step it up big time,” McNeil said. “Without Yasmine, she has had to move to the point and she’s not a point guard. She’s a wing guard. That’s where she’s most comfortable.”

Senior Payton Lee chipped in eight points for the Lady Knights. Lee has reached double digits a few times since Cook has been out.

“Payton Lee has stepped it up,” McNeil said. “Before Yasmine went out, Payton struggled being part of the offense because it was so much Kaleyia and Yasmine, and Payton wasn’t part of the offense, hardly at all. She was struggling with that because she’s been a big part of our offense as a 3-point shooter her whole career.”

Freshman forward Ta’liya Griffin contributed five points and worked hard around the basket to grab eight boards. McNeil estimated Griffin played all but about one minute.

Stratford (8-6) also won the boys game, 38-31, to complete the sweep at Hanahan. The Knights outscored the home team 24-11 in the second half to overcome a six-point deficit.

Guard Jontae Adams led the Knights with 14 points and seven rebounds while Telvon Coakley added eight points, six rebounds and five steals. Wesley Witherspoon chipped in seven points.

David Washington grabbed five rebounds and made three steals.

Stratford begins the Region 7-AAAAA slate on Jan. 14 at James Island (after press time) and Wando on Jan. 17.

It hosts Cane Bay on Jan. 21 and Berkeley on Jan. 24 before completing the first rotation through the region at crosstown rival Goose Creek on Jan. 28.